Democratic donor in Los Angeles charged with causing fatal overdose

Los Angeles News

Published 1:34 pm PDT, Friday, September 20, 2019

LOS ANGELES — Gemmel Moore had moved back home with his mother in Texas two years ago and was missing Los Angeles when he texted a photo of syringe in an arm to a wealthy gay man he knew in Southern California.

Ed Buck, an influential political activist more than twice Moore’s age, later replied: “Be here now.”

Buck bought a plane ticket for Moore and had a car pick him up a week later at the airport. By sunset, Moore, 26, would be dead on a mattress on the floor of Buck’s home in West Hollywood (Los Angeles County).

Federal prosecutors released new details Thursday as they charged Buck, 65, with distributing methamphetamine resulting in Moore’s death on July 27, 2017. A criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit detailed multiple allegations that Buck injected men with meth against their wishes during sexual encounters.

The investigation found at least 10 alleged victims, several of whom described in salacious detail Buck’s apparent fetish to pay men to use drugs and have sex, which often took a dark turn and led to several suspected overdoses.

Messages to Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, were not returned.

Even after another man, Timothy Dean, died of an overdose at Buck’s home in January, the Democratic donor continued to solicit men for sex and drug use until last week, when another man who overdosed managed to escape as Buck tried to stop him from leaving, authorities said.

Both men who died were black. Buck, who is white, was not charged for more than two years after Moore’s death, and critics have questioned if wealth, race or political ties influenced the investigation.

Buck has donated tens of thousands of dollars to California candidates, including Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, and is well known in LGBTQ political circles.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who is black and charged Buck this week with running a drug house, denied that there was any favoritism based on campaign donations.

U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said Buck preyed on homeless and other vulnerable men.

Brian Melley and Stefanie Dazio are Associated Press writers.

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