A wealthy West Hollywood man who was accused of preying on vulnerable men with drugs was convicted Tuesday of multiple drug trafficking charges in connection with the deaths of two Black men who overdosed on methamphetamine at his apartment.
After about four and a half hours of deliberation, a jury found Ed Buck, a longtime donor to Democratic candidates and other political causes, guilty of all nine counts in a federal indictment, including two counts each of enticing men to travel with the intent of engaging in prostitution and providing methamphetamine resulting in death, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice told BuzzFeed News.
The convictions mean Buck, 66, could spend the rest of his life in prison. Each of the convictions for distribution of drugs resulting in death carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a maximum of life without parole.
A sentencing date was not immediately available.
The verdict comes after a nine-day trial that featured dozens of witnesses, including Black men who testified that they were hired by Buck, who is white, to "prance around in underwear" and get high off crystal meth and other drugs, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Through witness testimony and graphic videos and photos, prosecutors showed how Buck solicited the men for "party and play" encounters and pressured them to use drugs, offering more money for taking larger amounts or allowing him to inject them. Several men also testified that Buck administered the drugs without their consent or while they were unconscious, the Times reported.
Buck, an LGBTQ activist and former candidate for the West Hollywood City Council, was once a prominent figure in California and Arizona political circles. But after the overdose death of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore at his apartment in 2017 and the widespread media coverage it generated, any association with Buck was considered a liability. Still, it wasn't until after a second man, 55-year-old Timothy Dean, died at his apartment in January 2019 that authorities launched the investigation that led to the charges against him for the deaths of both men.
Buck was finally arrested in September 2019 after a third man overdosed at his apartment but survived. He is still facing state drug and battery charges.