Ed Buck sentenced in deaths of gay Black men

Ed Buck Sentenced

Ed Buck, center, a one-time celebrated and sought-after donor to the Democratic candidates and elected officials in West Hollywood and Los Angeles, California, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday for drug crimes that led to deaths of two gay Black men (Gemmel Moore, left, and Timothy Dean, right) in his WeHo apartment. Photos: Facebook.

Ed Buck, the disgraced former activist in West Hollywood and Los Angeles politics, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday for drug crimes that led to deaths of two gay Black men in his WeHo apartment.

That means Buck, 67, will not be released from incarceration until he is 97 years old.

Ed Buck was convicted in July for providing fatal doses of methamphetamine to Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, operating a drug den, and enticing men to travel for prostitution. 

Judge Christina A. Snyder handed down the sentence in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles. She said she had to balance the good Buck did in his life with his “horrific crimes.” 

Prosecutors wanted a life sentence, saying they couldn’t take the risk that Buck might be released, and he has proven he is capable of re-offending.

However, Buck’s defense attorneys, Mark Werksman and Elizabeth Little, asked for 10 years behind bars — less than the federal sentencing guidelines — saying Buck was sexually abused as a child and health problems led to his drug addiction.

“Ed Buck used his money and privilege to exploit the wealth and power imbalances between himself and his victims, who were unhoused, destitute, and/or struggling with addiction,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Norell said in court documents. “He spent thousands of dollars on drugs and party and play sessions that destroyed lives and bred insidious addictions.”

Gemmel Moore was found dead in Buck’s apartment July 27, 2017. Buck had flown Moore from Texas to Los Angeles that morning for drug use. Moore was dead later that day.

Community members and activists rallied outside Buck’s apartment, calling for his arrest, but he remained free. Family members and community activist Jasmyne Cannick complained that Buck escaped prosecution because of wealth, political ties, and race.

About 18 months after Moore’s death, deputies were called to Buck’s apartment on Jan. 7, 2019, to investigate Dean’s death.

Even after Dean’s death, Buck was not arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey refused to prosecute Buck, saying there was a lack of evidence.

Eventually, federal agents stepped in to handle the case.

Buck was finally arrested in 2019 after another young Black man escaped from Buck, in September 2019, and told authorities his harrowing story.

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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