LOS ANGELES — The criminal case against activist and Democratic donor Ed Buck expanded Wednesday, with a federal grand jury indicting him in connection with the overdose deaths of two men inside his West Hollywood apartment.
Buck, 65, had been previously charged with providing the methamphetamine that caused the overdose death of Gemmel Moore, 26, inside Buck’s apartment on July 27, 2017. But Wednesday’s grand jury indictment also charged him with the same offense for the Jan. 7 death of 55-year-old Timothy Dean, who also died of an overdose in Buck’s apartment.
The indictment also accused Buck of distributing meth to three other men — in May and December of last year and in September of this year.
The two charges of providing drugs resulting in death each carry a possible sentence of life in prison without parole. The three counts of distributing methamphetamine each carry a possible sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Buck is also faces state charges of running a drug den in his West Hollywood apartment, but the federal case will be handled first.
The deaths of Moore and Dean were both ruled accidental by the coroner’s office. Despite outcry from Moore’s family and community activists, Buck was never arrested or charged in connection with the deaths.
Buck was not taken into custody until Sept. 17, when he was charged by the District Attorney’s Office over a near-fatal overdose in his apartment that occurred Sept. 11. Buck allegedly injected a man with “two dangerously large doses” of methamphetamine at the West Hollywood apartment. He allegedly administered a “dangerously large dose of methamphetamine” to the same man one week earlier, 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. His escape from Buck’s apartment led to Buck being charged in Superior Court with one felony count each of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house.
He was ordered to remain jailed in lieu of $4 million bail on the state charges, but he was transferred to federal custody when he was initially charged in connection with Moore’s death, and ordered to remain jailed without bail.
The latest indictment contends Buck “engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that Buck provided and perform sexual acts at Buck’s apartment,” a pattern described as “party and play.” It alleges that Buck solicited victims on social media and also used a recruiter to scout and proposition men.
“Buck exerted power over his victims, often targeting vulnerable individuals who were destitute, homeless and/or struggled with drug addiction, in order to exploit the relative wealth and power imbalance between them,” according to the indictment.
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has denied that his client — who allegedly was present when the fatal overdoses occurred in his apartment — had any involvement in either death.
Buck, a former Republican who first made headlines in the 1980s when he spearheaded a recall drive against Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, has been a frequent 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.