A gay Democratic donor who has been under scrutiny since two men died of overdoses at his West Hollywood home was charged Tuesday with running a drug den there. Edward "Ed" Buck is a "violent, dangerous sexual predator" with "no regard for human life," according to the motion filed by Los Angeles County prosecutors. Buck, 65, is a well-known liberal activist who has donated tens of thousands to California candidates including Gov. Gavin Newsom, the AP reports. His Tuesday night arrest came after a third man overdosed at his apartment September 11, but survived, Newsweek reports. Buck has previously denied wrongdoing in the two deaths, but has not issued a statement since his arrest. A look at the case:
- Sex, drugs, and death: Buck has been accused of luring addicted, homeless black men to his home with the promise of money and shelter, then coercing them into doing crystal meth and engaging in sex acts—including what authorities say is a sexual fetish involving administering dangerous doses of drugs. A wrongful death suit filed by the family of one of the victims calls Buck a wealthy white man with "a predatory and injurious system of soliciting black men and watching them cling to life."
- The first death: Gemmel Moore, 26, was found dead of a drug overdose at Buck's home in July 2017, surrounded by drug paraphernalia. Moore's family is the one that filed the lawsuit against Buck, accusing him of soliciting Moore for sex and then injecting him with crystal meth. The LAPD did not file criminal charges.
- The second death: Scrutiny around Buck ramped up after Timothy Dean, 55, died of a drug overdose at his home in January of this year. Dean was found on a mattress surrounded by drugs and sex toys. When Buck was still not charged, the AP notes that critics "questioned if wealth, race or political ties influenced the investigation."
- The third overdose: Prosecutors say Buck gave a dangerous dose of meth to the man who overdosed earlier this month; they say Buck refused to help him and "thwarted" his efforts to get any help, but the man was able to escape and call 911 from a gas station. Like the first two victims, this man is also black.
- The charges: Buck is charged with operating a drug house, furnishing methamphetamine, and battery causing serious bodily injury; the charges could bring a sentence of up to five years and eight months behind bars. The investigation into the deaths of Moore and Dean is ongoing, according to a spokesperson for the county DA. Prosecutors did, however, in their motion asking that Buck be held on $4 million bail, blame Buck's actions for those deaths.
- A warning: Activist Jasmyne Cannick had spoken out about Buck prior to Dean's death and has shared stories of other black men who say they had frightening experiences with Buck. (See all of her stories on the subject here.) On Tuesday, she tweeted a photo of herself standing in front of the crime scene tape surrounding Buck's apartment building and, later, retweeted a photo of Buck being taken away in a police car. "I’m a bit overwhelmed right now," she tweeted. "This has been two years of my life fighting for this man to be arrested." She has been working with Moore's family, and says Buck flew Moore to California from Texas—and he was dead within 24 hours of his arrival.
- Political donations: NPR cites donor tracking site Open Secrets in noting that some of Buck's largest contributions have been to the Phoenix-based Getting Stuff Done PAC.
- More on Buck: In January, the Los Angeles Times did a deep dive on the "erratic" life of Buck, a multimillionaire who has been a fashion model, actor, and West Hollywood city council candidate, among other things. Read it here.
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