Ed Buck, Political Activist, Is Charged With Operating Drug House

Ed Buck, a Democratic donor and activist whose West Hollywood apartment was the scene of two methamphetamine overdose deaths since 2017, was arrested on Tuesday after investigators said a third man suffered an overdose in his home last week.

Mr. Buck, 65, who has not faced charges for the earlier overdoses but was subject to a wrongful-death lawsuit, was charged on Tuesday with battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house. He faces up to five years and eight months in prison.

The charges relate only to the most recent incident on Sept. 11, when the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office says Mr. Buck injected a 37-year-old man with methamphetamine in Mr. Buck’s home. The man, who was not identified, survived the overdose.

Families of the two men who died in his apartment — Timothy Dean, 55, died in January, while Gemmel Moore, 26, died in July 2017 — have accused Mr. Buck, who is white, of preying upon black gay men. LaTisha Nixon, the mother of Mr. Moore, said in the wrongful-death lawsuit that Mr. Buck had a “well-documented history of isolating black men for predatory sexual encounters,” and crowds of protesters have gathered outside his home this year to demand justice for the men.

“I remain deeply concerned for the safety of people whose life circumstances may make them more vulnerable to criminal predators,” Jackie Lacey, the Los Angeles County district attorney, said in a statement. “With this new evidence, I authorized the filing of criminal charges against Ed Buck.”

A lawyer for Mr. Buck, Seymour I. Amster, could not be reached on Tuesday, but has previously denied that Mr. Buck had any role in the two deaths.

Mr. Buck was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday, with prosecutors recommending $4 million bail.

The longtime activist has given more than $116,000 to Democratic candidates and groups over the past decade or so. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told Fox News in January it donated Mr. Buck’s contributions to the NALEO Educational Fund, a national bipartisan Latino group, while Representative Ted Lieu of California said he would donate $18,000 in contributions to civil rights organizations.

Mr. Buck first rose to prominence in the 1980s, when he led the Meacham Recall Committee, an effort to remove from office Gov. Evan Mecham of Arizona. Mr. Mecham would later be impeached, accused of fraud and perjury.

Mr. Buck was also a prominent member of L.G.B.T. political circles.

He was considered a suspect in Mr. Moore’s death, but the police could not prove “beyond a reasonable doubt that suspect Buck furnished drugs to Gemmel Moore or that suspect Buck possessed drugs,” according to court documents obtained by The Los Angeles Times. After Mr. Dean’s death in January, Lt. Derrick Alfred of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told KTLA-TV, a local television station, that it was “suspicious that this has happened twice now, so we’re going to conduct a thorough investigation to determine if it is criminal in nature.”

The wrongful-death lawsuit said that Mr. Buck had introduced Mr. Moore to the drug.

“I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” Mr. Moore’s journal said, according to The Los Angeles Times. “Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection.”

Mr. Moore added in the journal: “If it didn’t hurt so bad I’d kill myself but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.”

Mihir Zaveri contributed reporting.


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