Crime /

Prominent Democratic Donor Sentenced for Drug Overdose-Related Deaths

Ed Buck will serve 30 years in prison

A wealthy California man who was a prominent political donor has been sentenced for his role in the overdose death of two men he invited to his home for sex.

Ed Buck, a well-known Democrat who donated more than $500,000 to a variety of Democratic causes, was one of California’s Electoral College members in 2016. 

Buck was convicted last summer of injecting two men, Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, with methamphetamine as part of a fetish killing that occurred in July 2017 and January 2019. He was found guilty of nine felony charges, including four counts of meth distribution, two counts of enticing men to travel across state lines for prostitution and one count of maintaining a drug den.

He was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder in a California court on April 14.

U.S. Attorney Chelsea Norell objected to the sentence, arguing that the mandatory minimum sentence for each death amounted to over 40 years. 

Prosecutors say Buck brought young black men — many of whom were homeless, poor, or addicted to drugs — to his Los Angeles home where he would inject them with sedatives or other drugs with and without their consent. 

Buck found the men through social media, dating and escort websites. He also found some victims through referrals and offered finder’s fees, investigators said.

Over the course of the two-week trial, federal prosecutors called more than 20 witnesses, including four men who told of smoking methamphetamine that Buck provided and then being pressured to allow the defendant to inject them with the drug,” reports NBC New York.

Buck did not testify in his own defense. 

Attorneys for Buck asked Judge Snyder for an acquittal, arguing that there was only evidence that he distributed drugs to “financially motivated houseless individuals” who did not offer believable testimonies. The motion was denied.

Mark Werksman, Buck’s lawyer, argued that his client’s sexual abuse as a child and drug addiction caused by health issues should be considered mitigating factors. Werksman wanted Buck to be sentenced to 10 years — half of the mandatory minimum. 

The lawyer said the prosecution had depicted Buck as a “sociopathic syringe-wielding sexual predator and sexual deviant who preys on homeless drug-addicted male prostitutes and kills them by recklessly overdosing them on methamphetamine,” per AP News.

“But there’s a second Ed Buck, a redeemable, a worthy, a valuable Ed Buck who deserves this court’s compassion and mercy,” Werksman said.

A former model, Buck’s wealth stems from the sale of an Arizona company he saved from bankruptcy.

He initially got involved in politics in 1987 after aiding efforts to recall then-Arizona Governor Evan Mecham. He has donated to several political campaigns, including those of Hillary Clinton, Ted Lieu, and Pete Aguilar, as well as LGBT and animal welfare causes.

Prosecutors said Buck used “human beings as playthings, destroying their lives merely to appease his own sexual gratification.”

Speaking before sentencing, Buck apologized for his “part in the tragic deaths of Gemmel and Timothy.”

“These are men I cared for and loved,” he said. “I did not cause their deaths.”

“Look at the good I have done and the good I may still do and not the horrible caricature that the government painted me as a meth-fueled ax killer,” Buck said. “That’s not who I am.”

Snyder said the deaths were “more than just an accident” and the sentencing was challenging as she had to weigh the good Buck did with his life with the “horrific crimes.”

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