One man said he woke to the wealthy Democratic donor injecting him with a syringe and applying metal clamps to his body. Another told investigators how the well-known California activist pulled out a power saw as he lay immobilized by drugs. Others recalled being plied with narcotics while wearing tight underwear.
Those are the some of men who survived to tell their stories, according to the criminal complaint against Ed Buck released Thursday.
Buck now faces a federal charge over another alleged victim who met a grimmer fate, dying from a drug overdose in Buck’s West Hollywood apartment, according to authorities. Prosecutors have accused the 65-year-old of preying on men “made vulnerable by addiction and homelessness” for sex.
The federal count of distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death comes days after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office hit Buck with charges including operating a drug house and administering methamphetamine to a 37-year-old man who authorities say survived an overdose in Buck’s home earlier this month.
The latest charge implicating Buck in the death of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore — and the criminal complaint detailing the experiences of 10 more people allegedly victimized — also follows growing calls to investigate a 2017 death initially ruled an accident. Activists urged Buck’s arrest after a second deadly overdose in his home earlier this year. In a wrongful-death suit filed against Buck and the district attorney, Moore’s mother claimed that Buck targets black men, intoxicating them so that he can force them into sex — and accused authorities of letting off a white man far wealthier and better-connected than his victims.
As The Washington Post’s Meagan Flynn previously reported:
Buck, a former fashion model and well-known LGBT activist in Los Angeles, has donated thousands to Democrats including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Rep. Ted Lieu (Calif.). Lieu said earlier this year he would donate more than $18,000 in contributions he received from Buck to LGBTQ and African American civil rights organizations.
The Washington Post
If convicted of the federal charge, Buck could receive a sentence of life without parole; the crime carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years. The charges filed earlier this week could lead to a sentence of up to five years and eight months in state prison.
Buck was ordered to be held without bond at his court appearance Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.
An attorney for Buck, Seymour Amster, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but earlier in the day Amster told journalists in Los Angeles that Buck would fight the allegations against him “vigorously,” media reports say. The lawyer dismissed accusations of singling out black men.
The federal complaint released Thursday draws on many men’s accounts of Buck’s alleged predatory behavior. But the charges rest on Moore, who investigators say was discovered unresponsive and wearing only socks in Buck’s living room in July of 2017. An autopsy attributed the death to an overdose from methamphetamine apparently injected in Moore’s arm.
Buck, who called 911 to say Moore was not breathing, told officials that the dead man was his friend and that he had not seen Moore’s drug injection, the criminal complaint states. But acquaintances of Moore’s told authorities Buck paid Moore and gave him narcotics in exchange for sex. Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, would later tell investigators that her son had called her the year before to say “a rich and powerful man named Ed Buck held [him] against his will and shot him up with drugs,” as court documents put it.
The district attorney decided there was not enough evidence to charge Buck. A slew of other incidents, though, would create mounting pressure for authorities to take action.
A year and a half after Moore’s death, authorities found another near-naked man on Buck’s floor — this time, wearing only underwear. Timothy Dean, too, was declared dead after police arrived. An autopsy pointed again to drugs, and again, no charges followed.
What did come was a firestorm of public criticism, as thousands signed a petition calling for Buck’s arrest and as Nixon filed a lawsuit saying Dean would still be alive if Buck had faced legal repercussions for her son’s overdose.
“If the dead body of a blond-haired, blue-eyed white man was found in the home of an older black man, he’d be lucky to even make it to the police station alive,” the Los Angeles Times reported an attorney for Nixon saying.
Buck was well-known among prostitutes for exchanging drugs and money for sex, another alleged victim reportedly told law enforcement. People called him “Doctor Kevorkian,” one man said, a reference to the prominent advocate of physician-assisted suicide.
Investigators came to believe that Buck continued giving men drugs for sexual favors after Dean’s death, according to the criminal complaint.
A man identified in documents only as “Victim 10” described getting methamphetamine from Buck every day for weeks before overdosing put him in the hospital earlier this month. Victim 10 recalls Buck refusing to call an ambulance during his Sept. 11 overdose, the criminal complaint states. The man said he got help only after leaving Buck’s apartment and getting a passerby to call 911.
That latest incident helped trigger the charges filed against Buck this week.
“The surviving victim’s statements gave us the break we needed,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Lacey said Thursday that federal law provides more options for charging Buck than state law, allowing for charges that could carry lengthier prison sentence, according to CBS Los Angeles. Local authorities did not find enough evidence to hold Buck responsible for the overdose deaths, Lacey said.