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Ed Buck charged in death of Gemmel Moore in federal case

Update: Ed Buck federal case delayed to August 2020

To some of the homeless gay black men living in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park, Ed Buck was known as “Doctor Kervokian,” and he compensated male sex workers with money and drugs, according to court documents.

Buck, 65, a Democratic donor who was well known in political circles and West Hollywood, also had a fetish for injecting men with methamphetamine. Buck fulfilled this fantasy with numerous victims, and two of them died in his West Hollywood apartment, according to a 22-page federal complaint.

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Federal case

Buck was charged Thursday in federal court with one count of distributing methamphetamine that lead to the death of Gemmel Moore, 26, in 2017, U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles.

“Investigators have identified 10 additional victims — nine of whom (Buck) administered drugs or strongly encouraged them to ingest narcotics as part of agreements to be compensated for sexual services,” Hanna said.

Ed Buck Arrested Gemmel Moore

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey speaks at a news conference Thursday about the arrest of Ed Buck. U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna stands behind Lacey. Photo: KTLA screen shot

A second victim, Timothy Dean, 55, died inside Buck’s apartment from a methamphetamine overdose in January. Buck has not been charged in that death. 

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Ed Buck charged

Los Angeles County prosecutors charged Buck earlier this week with operating a drug house and providing methamphetamine to a 37-year-old man who survived an overdose last week, but the federal charges have a harsher punishment. If convicted of providing the drugs that led to Moore’s death, Buck faces a minimum 20 years in prison.

Buck briefly appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon, and was ordered held without bond.

Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, could not be reached for comment.

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Ed Buck arrested

Buck was arrested Tuesday night at his West Hollywood apartment. On September 11, less than a week earlier, a man fearing that he was suffering a methamphetamine overdose, fled Buck’s apartment in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue after Buck tried to prevent the man from getting medical help, according to court documents.

The man called 911 from a nearby gas station and told investigators what happened at Buck’s apartment, according to the documents.

Activists criticize Lacey

In the two years preceding Buck’s arrest, activists from the local African American and LGBTQ communities have criticized the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Lacey for taking so long to arrest Buck.

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Activist Jasmyne Cannick has lead the charge. She has organized protests, brought other alleged Buck victims to the sheriff and district attorney’s office, and created the Justice4Gemmel.org

Cannick also has been extremely critical of Lacey, accusing her of dragging her feet and giving Buck preferential treatment because he is white and has connections to Democratic politicians.

At Thursday’s press conference, Lacey said that Buck’s status in the community played no part in how the investigation was handled.

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More victims

The 22-page federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday described Buck’s propensity and the victims he targeted.

Drug Enforcement Administrator investigators spoke with 10 men who said that Buck paid them to use drugs for his sexual pleasure. Some of the men said they lost consciousness after Buck gave them a drink, and some of the men woke up with Buck injecting methamphetamine into the arms against their will, according to the complaint.

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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