Ed Buck, the Democratic mega-donor who was convicted last year on multiple drug-related felony counts stemming from the overdose deaths of two Black men whom Buck had injected with drugs, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Buck, 67, a former candidate for public office in California, who donated more than $500,000 to various federal, state, and local officials or political action committees, had previously been found guilty for the drug-related deaths of 26-year-old escort Gemmel Moore and 55-year-old adult film actor Timothy Dean, who died just 18 months apart.
Former recipients of Buck’s generosity included former President Barack Obama, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu (Calif.) and Adam Schiff (Calif.), and Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
Several of the more national-level politicians returned the donations after Buck was charged.
During trial, prosecutors charged that Buck lured various men — most of whom were gay and Black and several of whom were homeless — to his apartment and injected them with methamphetamine as part of a bizarre sexual fetish that involved stripping them down to their underwear, getting them high, filming sexual encounters with them, and either sodomizing them with objects, using sex toys on their genitals, or placing clamps on their nipples.
Despite the short time that elapsed between Moore and Dean’s deaths, which occurred in July 2017 and January 2019, respectively, Buck was not charged until September 2019 after a third man, who had lived in Buck’s apartment for close to two months, nearly died of a similar overdose.
Following Moore’s death, local activists had protested outside Buck’s apartment, and continued to do so throughout the months after Dean’s death and after the third near-overdose. Family members of the victims had pleaded with local authorities to arrest Buck, claiming he was being allowed to skate on criminal charges because he was white, wealthy, and had political ties.
U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder, of the Central District of California, sentenced Buck to 30 years to life in prison, for each of the counts of distributing methamphetamine that lead to the deaths of Moore and Dean. The two sentences will run concurrently.
Prosecutors and family members of the victims had urged Snyder to impose the most severe consequences she could, including a lifelong sentence, while Buck’s attorney asked for 10 years.
But Snyder claimed that “mitigating circumstances,” including the fact that Buck had been sexually abused by his father and a priest as a child” declared a life sentence would be “overly punitive.”
Snyder also sentenced Buck to 20 years, to run concurrently with the sentences already handed out, for each of four counts of distributing methamphetamine, two counts of “enticement to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution” and one of “maintaining drug-involved premises” at his West Hollywood apartment, reports The Daily Mail.
When handing down her sentence, she chastised Buck, telling him his crimes were “horrific.”
“What happened here is reprehensible conduct. All lives matter,” she said, referring to the fact that many of the men he injected had been homeless or sex workers.
At trial and sentencing, Buck’s lawyers argued that neither of the fatal overdose victims had died from methamphetamine directly, and that several of the men he injected were drug addicts who engaged in consensual sex games. Buck said at sentencing he intended to “pursue legal challenges,” indicating his intent to appeal his sentence.
Snyder allowed Buck to address the court, with Buck saying he wanted to “apologize for the tragic deaths” of Moore and Dean.
“These were men I cared for and loved,” he said. “I would never do them harm. Their deaths were a tragedy — but I did not cause their deaths. I would like to go back and change things, and if I could I would.”
He highlighted his philanthropy, the work he’d done over his lifetime fighting for gay rights, AIDS research, and animal welfare, to prove that he was worthy of mercy and redemption.
“I ask the court to take a look at my life in total. For better than half of it, I have been in service. I am not the horrible… killer the government says I am,” he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Norell argued that Buck’s actions don’t show remorse, noting that after Dean overdosed, Buck did not call 911 immediately, but cleaned up syringes, pipes, and other drug paraphernalia that was in sight.
“Instead of using that precious time to save Timothy Dean, he used that time to clean up pipes and syringes,” Norell said. She also noted that the deaths of Moore and Dean, and the hospitalizations of other victims due to Buck’s drug-injecting fetish, did not deter him from continuing the same behavior.
In response to Buck’s sentencing, David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, issued a statement.
“Ed Buck preyed on vulnerable Black same-gender-loving men, stole two of their lives, and nearly killed a third person,” Johns said. “We are thankful for National Black Justice Coalition co-founder Jasmyne Cannick and the work of others who helped keep our community safe by holding him accountable.
“We celebrate Ed Buck being held accountable and urge community and public safety leaders to do the same for others who have taken and place at extreme risk Black LGBTQ+/SGL lives — often without consequence.”
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