Lead Story Local News West Edition

WeHo donor arrested after latest drug overdose

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Ed Buck, a prominent Democratic Party donor whose West Hollywood apartment was the scene of two fatal drug overdoses, remained jailed Sept. 18 on suspicion of running a drug den in his residence, where another near-fatal overdose allegedly occurred last week.

Buck, who is being held on $4 million bail, allegedly injected the man with “two dangerously large doses” of methamphetamine at the defendant’s apartment in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue on Sept. 11, one week after allegedly administering a “dangerously large dose of methamphetamine” to the same man, according to a bail memorandum filed by Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes.

Buck allegedly refused to render aid to the man, who eventually fled from the apartment and called 911 from a nearby gas station, according to the document. The 37-year-old man suffered an overdose but survived, authorities said.

Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has denied that his client — who allegedly was present at the location when the earlier fatal overdoses occurred — had any involvement in either death. He declined to comment on the newly filed case.

Buck, 65, was charged with one felony count each of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house, the District Attorney’s Office announced Sept. 17 after Buck’s arrest.

He is scheduled to appear in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom for arraignment Sept. 19.

In a memorandum filed with the court, the prosecutor wrote that Buck is “a violent, dangerous sexual predator” who “mainly preys on men made vulnerable by addiction and homelessness” and that he is “still a suspect in the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean.”

“I remain deeply concerned for the safety of people whose life circumstances may make them more vulnerable to criminal predators,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in announcing the charges against Buck. “With this new evidence, I authorized the filing of criminal charges against Ed Buck.”

Buck and Lacey are being sued in federal court over the methamphetamine overdose death of a 26-year-old man. The complaint for wrongful death was filed in Los Angeles federal court by the mother of Gemmel Moore, who died at Buck’s West Hollywood home in 2017. She alleges that Buck lured her son from Houston to Los Angeles for the purpose of engaging in “commercial” sex acts.

The civil suit accuses Buck of human trafficking and engaging in “revenge porn” by making and sharing a video of his alleged “meth-fueled sexual encounters” with Moore.

The suit was initially filed in Superior Court but moved to federal court in May. Lacey and Assistant Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum are named as co-defendants for allegedly violating Moore’s civil rights in their refusal to prosecute Buck.

Moore was the first of two men to die at Buck’s apartment in less than 18 months. He was found dead of a crystal methamphetamine overdose in Buck’s home on July 27, 2017. The coroner ruled the death accidental.

On Jan. 7 of this year, a second man died of methamphetamine toxicity at Buck’s home. The death of Timothy Dean, 55, of West Hollywood was also ruled accidental.

Prosecutors last summer declined to file charges against Buck regarding Moore’s death, citing insufficient evidence. As for Dean’s death, the District Attorney’s Office has said that it remains under investigation.

In the bail request, however, prosecutors said the defendant’s “aggressive and malevolent behavior” led to the deaths Moore and Dean.

“Not deterred by the senseless death of Moore and Dean, the defendant nearly killed a third victim last week,” the document reads. “The defendant’s predatory acts and conscious disregard for human life must be stopped.”

In a statement posted on Twitter, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, wrote, “It’s incomprehensible to me that it took a third man to be attacked and almost die to finally dissolve the unconscionable apathy that has allowed Ed Buck, a racist sexual predator, to roam free. … Thanks to the tireless work of advocates and a community that has had enough, Los Angeles is a safer place. Now, justice must finally be served.”

Buck has been a prominent donor to Democratic candidates and office holders. He has also been active in LGBTQ political circles and once ran for the West Hollywood City Council.

“For our community, a predator with a Jekyll and Hyde personality is now off the streets,” Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chairman Mark J. Gonzalez said in a statement. “And it is due to the ongoing support and pressure from many activists and community groups including Black Lives Matter, Jasmyne Cannick and more.”

Cannick, a political consultant who has served as a spokeswoman for Moore’s mother, has long pushed for Buck’s arrest and prosecution.

The lawsuit by Moore’s mother seeks damages against Buck on allegations of wrongful death, human trafficking, sexual battery, drug dealer liability, premises liability, negligence per se, intentional infliction of emotional distress and hate violence.

In addition to seeking general damages, the lawsuit also seeks an undetermined amount of punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

From City News Service