Political Donor Ed Buck Gets 30 Years in 2 Deaths

Prosecutors wanted longer sentence in overdoses of men they said were preyed on
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2021 12:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 14, 2022 5:08 PM CDT
Political Donor Ed Buck Guilty in 2 Overdose Deaths
In this Sept. 19, 2019, file photo, Ed Buck appears in Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Update: Deciding on a sentence for Ed Buck was difficult, Judge Christina Snyder said Thursday, because she had to weigh the good he's done—as a major donor to Democratic, LGBTQ, and animal rights causes—against the "horrific crimes" he committed. In the end, the federal judge decided on 30 years in prison for the overdose deaths of two men, the AP reports. Prosecutors, who argued Buck "used his money and privilege" to exploit his victims, wanted 40 years to life. Buck told the judge Thursday that he wasn't responsible for the men's deaths, which he called tragic. "I did not cause their deaths," he said. Our story from July 2021 follows:

Political donor Ed Buck was found guilty Tuesday on all nine felony counts he'd been charged with in relation to two overdose deaths that took place in his West Hollywood apartment. Two of those counts were distribution of controlled substances resulting in death, which carry mandatory minimums of 20 years in prison each, NBC News reports. Buck, 66, is in federal custody and will be sentenced at a later date; he could face up to life behind bars. The Los Angeles Times reports that the testimony and evidence presented at Buck's trial, which included graphic videos, documented the risk of Buck's fetish for "party and play," in which he'd invite men over—sometimes homeless ones—and pay them to let him inject them with meth or otherwise get them high, then watch them try on undergarments he provided. He had at least 1,500 videos of such encounters.

And two of them turned fatal: Gemmel Moore, 26, and Timothy Dean, 55, both Black men, died in Buck's apartment in July 2017 and January 2019, and Buck was arrested in September 2019 after another man overdosed at his apartment, but survived. At his trial, others who'd been paid by Buck accused him of injecting them with drugs or spiking drinks without their consent, as well as performing sexual actions on them without their consent as they were asleep, unconscious, or high. Meanwhile, Buck was a well-known activist and donor in California politics and LGBTQ+ circles, the Washington Post reports. He donated more than $53,000 to Democratic candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Some recipients returned the donations after he was charged. (More Ed Buck stories.)

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