Although alleged victims families and their supporters warned
about California Democratic activist and megadonor Ed Buck for
two years as they tried to get prosecutors to bring charges,
their pleas werent heard.
Prosecutors declined to bring charges a year after a first man
died in Buck's apartment, but another investigation began after
a second man died. In July, deputies approached a federal-state
task force on opioid overdoses, which agreed to take the case,
Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Kyle Mori said.
Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez, a former Riverside County
prosecutor, said it was unusual for federal prosecutors to take
over a state investigation. He said he didnt buy District
Attorney Jackie Lacey statements about a lack of admissible
evidence, calling her explanation for passing the case to
federal prosecutors disingenuous.
No one is pickier about what cases they file than the federal
government, Rodriguez said. Its a known thing in criminal law
that the federal government only files perfect cases. ... They
want two helpings of all the evidence in the world.
Lacey has defended her decision not to bring a case sooner or
file homicide charges. She said there was insufficient evidence
to charge Buck in the deaths, saying it made more sense to
proceed with a federal prosecution that would bring a minimum 20-
year sentence if hes convicted.
Lacey denied that Buck, who had given her a $100 donation that
she later returned, received any favoritism. She said
investigators didnt have the necessary witnesses to make an
arrest until the latest victim provided the account that gave
them their big break.
We did not have other victims that were willing to talk to the
prosecutors to tell us what happened, to tell us they were
injected by Mr. Buck, Lacey said.
Buck wasnt stopped until authorities said a third black man
I said it the last time we were down here that theres going to
be a third victim, said LaTisha Nixon, whose 26-year-old son,
Gemmel Moore, was the first to die. We said theres gonna be a
second victim. We kept saying it because we all knew ... Ed Buck
didnt stop doing what he was doing.
Nixon and her supporters welcomed the arrest but criticized the
time it took to put Buck behind bars and renewed their questions
about whether a wealthy, white Democratic donor benefited
because the victims were mostly gay black men and drug users,
some of whom were sex workers and homeless.
If white gay men had been dying in a black mans house or
anybodys house, rather, this case would have been taken a lot
more seriously, said Jasmyne Cannick, a communications
strategist who spearheaded the effort to get justice for Moore.
Ed Buck knew who he was preying on, and he knew that people
would not care. Or he thought that people would not care.
Buck, 65, was arrested Sept. 17 after the third man was
hospitalized for an overdose.
The Los Angeles County district attorney charged Buck with
running a drug house. Two days later, U.S. prosecutors charged
him with distributing methamphetamine resulting in Moores death.
Buck is being held without bail and has yet to enter a plea in
either case. His attorneys declined to comment, but one defense
lawyer, Seymour Amster, previously said Buck denied any role in
the deaths of Moore or Timothy Dean, 55, who overdosed Jan. 7.
Moore was found naked on a mattress on Bucks living room floor
on July 27, 2017. Two dozen syringes and five glass pipes were
found, along with meth stored in a toolbox with sex toys.
Buck has donated tens of thousands of dollars to California
candidates, including Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, and is well
known in LGBTQ political circles. According to federal records,
Buck contributed more than $500,000 to Democratic groups,
including $1,500 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign and
$2,950 to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
When Moore was carried out of Bucks apartment two years ago,
members of the gay political club he lavished with thousands of
dollars in political donations swiftly ousted him.
Buck attempted a comeback in early January, less than six months
after prosecutors declined to bring charges in the overdose
death. He tried to crash the Stonewall Democratic Clubs holiday
party at a Los Angeles-area wine bar, telling members he had
been exonerated, club president Lester Aponte said.
When somebody dies at your house, wouldnt you think thats the
kind of event that will make you reexamine your life choices?
Aponte told The Associated Press. It doesnt seem like it
registered with him at all.
Two days after Buck was escorted out of the bash, another gay
man was found dead in his West Hollywood apartment again from
a methamphetamine overdose.
The federal criminal complaint, however, said eight men had
provided harrowing accounts about encounters with Buck before
the latest alleged victim survived overdosing twice in a week
this month. That man said he lived with Buck for weeks this
summer and Buck regularly injected him with meth.
Several of those men said Buck encouraged them to take drugs or
injected them himself some against their will and others who
said they woke up to being injected or suspected they had been
given a powerful drug before passing out.
One man, who was homeless and worked as a prostitute, told
investigators in March that Buck was known as Dr. Kevorkian, a
reference to the late doctor who'd been imprisoned for helping
terminally ill patients end their lives. The man said Buck
injected him twice with meth in 2011 and he lost consciousness
Buck insists on injecting prostitutes with methamphetamine and
... would dismiss anyone who would not permit it without
compensation, according to an affidavit by Drug Enforcement
Administration agent John Mundell.
Lacey, the district attorney, said witnesses were reluctant or
had lawyered up and wouldnt speak, while others didnt have
firsthand encounters with Buck.
Cannick, the communications strategist, and two lawyers
representing Moores mother in a lawsuit against Buck, the
district attorney and the sheriffs department, disputed the
prosecutors assertions. They said they accompanied victims
mentioned in the criminal complaint to interviews with sheriffs
deputies and provided text messages, photos, videos and receipts
of electronic payments Buck made.
The witnesses all spoke with Los Angeles County sheriffs
investigators, who consulted frequently with county prosecutors,
said Lt. Derrick Alfred, who oversaw the team of detectives who
investigated Deans death. He said the activists were integral
by finding witnesses.
Moores death was originally listed as an accidental overdose. A
criminal investigation wasnt launched for about three weeks,
after Cannick said she published excerpts from a journal Moore
kept that said he had become addicted to drugs and Ed Buck is
the one to thank.
Before Buck could be charged in federal court, investigators
learned of the latest overdose and finally made an arrest.
When Buck was taken into custody, he acted confused, seemingly
wondering why we were there and what was going on, Alfred said.
A small crowd, including Cannick, gathered across the street
from the building where protesters had once posted signs saying,
Justice 4 Gemmel and Ed Buck is a Predator!
Within a week, an eviction notice was posted on Bucks door. It
cited the illegal drugs and the deaths of two men found inside.
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