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Ed Buck’s sentence in 2 meth fetish deaths is 30 years: NPR


Ed Buck appears in Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2019. The wealthy California Democratic donor was convicted of injecting two men with lethal doses of drugs and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Damien Dovarganes/AP


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Damien Dovarganes/AP

Ed Buck's sentence in 2 meth fetish deaths is 30 years: NPR

Ed Buck appears in Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2019. The wealthy California Democratic donor was convicted of injecting two men with lethal doses of drugs and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Damien Dovarganes/AP

LOS ANGELES — Ed Buck told neighbors the steady stream of young black men leaving his West Hollywood apartment were social work clients. What really happened behind closed doors, which he called the “gates of hell”, was far more sinister.

The men didn’t need Buck’s help — they needed to be saved from him, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles said. Some just got away with it. Two men no.

Buck, 67, a wealthy gay white donor to Democratic, LGBTQ and animal rights causes, was sentenced in US District Court on Thursday to 30 years in federal prison for injecting two men with lethal doses of methamphetamine as part of a fetish that turned fatal.

Prosecutors, who sought a life sentence, said Buck had such a disregard for life that even after the two deaths in his apartment, he did not stop paying men to come to his house and inject them with massive doses of methamphetamine. A man overdosed twice in one week.

“This defendant preyed on vulnerable victims – drug-addicted and often homeless men – to feed an obsession that led to death and misery,” said U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison. “Mr. Buck continues to pose a clear danger to society.”

Buck was convicted in July of distributing methamphetamine leading to the deaths of Gemmel Moore in 2017 and Timothy Dean in 2019. He was also found guilty of four counts of distributing methamphetamine, two counts of inciting men to cross state lines for prostitution and one count. to maintain a drug den.

Buck managed to avoid arrest for more than two years after Moore’s death and family and community members led by political strategist Jasmyne Cannick have complained that he escaped prosecution due to wealth, political ties and race. He has donated more than $500,000 since 2000 to mostly Democratic causes.

Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, joined Cannick and several other friends and family members of the deceased in asking the judge for the maximum sentence. Nixon, a certified nursing assistant who said she prayed and comforted countless dying people, broke down thinking about the death of her eldest.

“All I can think of is how my son died naked on a mattress with no love around him,” Nixon said. “No one to hold his hand or say good things to him.”

Defense attorney Mark Werksman called for a 10-year sentence – half the mandatory 20-year minimum Buck faced and well below the 25 years recommended by the probation service. He said Buck’s childhood sexual abuse and the health issues that led to his drug addiction were mitigating factors.

He said prosecutors called Buck a “syringe-wielding sociopathic sexual predator and sexual deviant who preys on homeless drug-addicted male prostitutes and kills them by recklessly overdosing them with methamphetamine.”

“But there is a second Ed Buck, a redeemable, worthy and precious Ed Buck who deserves the compassion and mercy of this court,” Werksman said.

Buck made his first public remarks since his arrest in September 2019, apologizing for “my part in the tragic deaths” of Moore and Dean, whom he said were friends he loved. In a hoarse voice, he said he did not cause their deaths but expressed his condolences to their families – which they said he never did after their deaths.

Buck, who worked as a model and then made a small fortune selling an Arizona business he saved from bankruptcy, said he tried to live a good life dedicated to political causes that would make his better world.

His political activism began with efforts in 1987 to recall Republican Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, who was eventually convicted in an impeachment trial and removed from office. Buck said he started an AIDS information organization in the 1980s, marched for gay rights and human rights, and championed a ban on the sale of furs in West Hollywood.

“Look at the good I’ve done and the good I can still do and not the horrible caricature the government has painted of me as a meth-fueled ax killer,” Buck said. “It’s not who I am.”

Judge Christina Snyder said the case was one of the most difficult and tragic she has presided over. She said Buck’s “horrifying crimes” were reprehensible and more than just an accident.

Assistant United States Attorney Chelsea Norell opposed the 30-year sentence, arguing that the mandatory minimum sentences for each death are 40 years.

“He actually gets a kill and a 50% kill,” Norell said.

Family members of Dean and Moore said they were disappointed he was not given a life sentence, but were glad Buck was gone for a long time. They said his apology came too late to seem sincere.

“It’s not love when you kill someone,” Dean’s sister Joann Campbell said. “It was just something he was saying…to get some sympathy from the judge. But I don’t believe and buy any of that.”

Even after Dean’s death, Buck remained unfazed, Norell said. Hiding in a hotel to avoid the police, he injected Dane Brown with consecutive “shots” of methamphetamine.

Brown, who was homeless, later moved into Buck’s apartment, where he was injected with methamphetamine almost daily and often several times a day.

On September 4, 2019, after Buck shot him three times with back-to-back doses, Brown was hospitalized with an overdose. He had five times as much methamphetamine in his system as Moore and Dean had when they died, prosecutors said.

Brown returned less than a week later and Buck injected him with methamphetamine three times. Brown said he overdosed again. He was exhausted and weak, but Buck didn’t call an ambulance.

“I can’t run, I can’t move and it’s like all my energy has run out,” Brown recalled in court Thursday.

It was then that he heard the voice of his late mother telling him to get up.

“At the last moment, just as I was giving up and closing my eyes, I heard the voice,” Brown said. “It’s like she started a fire and told me to get out and get out now.”

Brown managed to get to a nearby gas station and was taken to hospital. It was this incident that ultimately led to Buck’s arrest.

If he hadn’t come out of Buck’s apartment, Brown said he would have died there like Moore and Dean.


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