WEST HOLLYWOOD—Political donor Ed Buck, 67, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on April 14, 2022 for his role in the drug overdose deaths of two men at his West Hollywood residence.
Buck’s conviction is the result of the drug overdose case involving Gemmel Moore, 26, who died inside Buck’s home on July 27, 2017, from a drug overdose on methamphetamine . Buck’s home was littered with drug paraphernalia and sex toys.
The death was initially classified as accidental by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. According to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, the case was re-opened as an abundance of caution, after Moore’s family demanded a thorough investigation.
Moore’s family and friends indicate they suspected foul play after reading his journal along with text messages and emails exchanged between Moore and Buck. One email showed Buck sent Moore an airplane ticket to travel from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles, the day before his death. Journal entries stated that Moore used drugs with Buck. According to reports, Moore was working as a male prostitute.
“Ed Buck needs to be stopped,” stated LaTisha Nixon, Moore’s mother, during an appeal for a renewed homicide investigation. “I just want you guys to put pressure on whoever needs pressure.” Moore’s mother questioned whether Buck’s ties to elected officials and differences in race and class influenced the first investigation regarding her son’s death.
Nixon spoke to the West Hollywood City Council in August 2017 where she said, “We have a lot of victims that have came forward. We have more information, but we need immunity for these people because some of the charges by them testifying could be felonies. I should not even been here before you guys. I feel if the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department did a thorough investigation. ”
“I am asking for justice for my son,” Nixon added. “Ed Buck needs to be stopped. He needs some help, he needs to be stopped.”
Ed Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster addressed the West Hollywood City Council on September 18, 2017, stating: “We sent in a request to have an investigation done against councilmember [Lindsey] P. Hovarth for violation of Ethics rule 522.” “Mr. Buck has not been accused of anything,” added Amster. Buck ran for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council in 2017, but was unsuccessful.
Hovarth responded by stating, “Gemmel Moore was 26 year-old at the time of his passing. By all accounts he was a thoughtful and caring person.” She added, “I hope Gemmel Moore’s family and friends find the justice they are seeking.”
Journalist Jasmyne Cannick comprised a list of campaigns that received donations from Buck which included California Governor Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem John J. Duran.
According to the Justice4Gemmel website, Gemmel wrote in his journal:
“I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” a December entry reads. “Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth it was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.”
“My life is at an alltime [sic] high right now & I mean that from all ways. I ended up back at Buck [sic] house again and got munipulated [sic] into slamming again. I even went to the point where I was forced to doing 4 within a 2day [sic] period. This man is crazy and its [sic] sad. Will I ever get help?”
Moore’s last entry was dated December 3, 2016, which read: “If it didn’t hurt so bad, I’d kill myself, but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.”
Moore’s family held a vigil for him in West Hollywood on August 18, 2017. That same day Representative Karen Bass released the following statement:
“I’m stunned by the news of Gemmel’s death and the tragic and sad circumstances surrounding it. Nine years ago, I received a $250.00 contribution from Edward Buck. I do not know him, but what I am hearing and reading about his conduct with Gemmel is deeply disturbing. If there are other victims, they should come forward immediately. It is my hope that law enforcement is prepared to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. My thoughts are with the friends and family of Gemmel this evening.”
After the reopening of the case and reviewing the autopsy report, Buck’s attorney indicated that he is maintaining his statement of not witnessing Moore’s injection.
“This was an unfortunate situation, this was a tragedy,” said Buck’s attorney Seymour Amster to NBC 4 News. “But it does not justify accusing an innocent man of things that did not happen.”
The Los Angeles County District’s Attorney’s Office indicated in a press release that Buck injected a 37 year-old man, known only as “John Doe,” with methamphetamines at Buck’s apartment located on the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue on September 11. The man allegedly refused aid by Buck and left to call 911 from a gas station. The victim suffered an overdose, but survived.
On January 7, 2019, another African American male was found dead at Buck’s home. Per Brenda Shafer of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, Timothy Dean, 55, was found in Buck’s living room alongside sex toys, mirrors, and folded mens underwear. Buck’s refrigerator contained a bottle of Naloxone, which is used to block the effects of opioids. Also found was a bottle of Caverject, used as an injection in the penis to make it hard, and a box of Alprostadil/Papaverine, used to obtain erections.
Dean’s body had a silicone circular sheath wrapped around the base of his penis and a rubber ring around his scrotum. Dean’s death was ruled accidental by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in March 2019.
Prosecutors indicated police found “hundreds of photographs in Buck’s home of several men in compromising positions.” Los Angeles County District Attorney, Jackie Lacey called Buck a “violent, dangerous sexual predator” and recommended bail bet set $4 Million. Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey also stated:
“I remain deeply concerned for the safety of people whose life circumstances may make them more vulnerable to criminal predators,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “With this new evidence, I authorized the filing of criminal charges against Ed Buck.”
In July 2021, a federal jury in downtown Los Angeles found Buck guilty of all charged counts against Gemmel Moore. During Buck’s recent trial over 20 witnesses were called to the stand including four men who noted they smoked methamphetamine that Buck gave to them and felt pressure from him to allow Buck to inject them the drug.
Buck is known for fundraising for Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton, Ted Lieu, and Pete Aguilar, as well as California Governor Gavin Newsom. Buck, 64, was raised in Arizona, where he graduated from Phoenix College. At the age of 16, he came out as gay to his parents. He lived in Europe for a number of years and returned to the United States in 1980. Buck found success as an American political activist in 1987. He founded the Mecham Watchdog Committee in the attempt to fuel a campaign to impeach Evan Mecham, the Arizona governor at the time. Buck was arrested in 1983 for public sexual indecency in an adult bookstore.
Buck spoke briefly to U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder during his sentencing where he apologized “for my part in the tragic deaths of Gemmel and Timothy.” “These are men I cared for and loved,” Buck said. “I did not cause their deaths.”
“Buck used his money and privilege to exploit the wealth and power imbalances between himself and his victims, who were unhoused, destitute, and/or struggling with addiction,” said Chelsea Norell, an assistant US attorney, in a court filing. “He spent thousands of dollars on drugs and party and play sessions that destroyed lives and bred insidious addictions.”