LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A jury of seven women and five men were sworn in Tuesday for the federal criminal trial of former political donor Ed Buck, who is accused of providing methamphetamine to two men who overdosed and died in his West Hollywood apartment.
The 66-year-old Buck is charged with nine felony counts, including two counts of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death. He is accused of distributing methamphetamine that resulted in the deaths of 55-year-old Timothy Dean in January of 2019, and 26-year-old Gemmel Moore in July 2017.
He also faces state charges of running a drug den, but the federal case is proceeding first.
Alleged victims and their family and friends held a news conference on the courthouse steps Tuesday morning.
“We’re here for justice, not just for Timothy Dean, but for Gemmel as well, and it still hurts,” Dean’s sister Joyce Jackson told reporters. “I pray constantly, I wish I could wake up from a dream, and this was just a dream and Tim is still here. However, that’s just something that I’m dreaming that’s never gonna come true again. So today is a somber day, but it’s still a good day. Because we are here to make sure that my brother gets justice.”
Prosecutors allege Buck had a “fetish” for paying Black men to allow him to inject them with methamphetamine, even while they were passed out. Buck lured vulnerable, homeless gay men, who were addicted to drugs or working as escorts, to his Laurel Avenue apartment, where he provided drugs in exchange for sexual activity, a trial memorandum alleges.
The deaths of Dean and Moore prompted community outrage.
Buck was first arrested in September of 2019 on separate charges brought by the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office of injecting a 37-year-old man with a large dose of meth, as well as running a drug house out of his condo.
At the time, then L.A. County DA Jackie Lacey explained that local authorities determined that there was not enough evidence under state law to charge Buck in the deaths of Dean and Moore. However, under federal law, they had more legal options. He was indicted in October of 2019 by a federal grand jury in the deaths of Dean and Moore.
Buck is charged with knowingly enticing Moore to travel to L.A. to engage in prostitution, and providing him with crystal methamphetamine before he overdosed on the drug and died.
Buck is facing a second count of enticing a different man to travel with the intent of engaging in prostitution, one count of knowingly and intentionally distributing methamphetamine, and one count of using his West Hollywood apartment for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as methamphetamine, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.
At the apartment, Buck “prepared methamphetamine syringes in a ritualistic fashion; some victims report that he required them to watch him do it,” the memo alleges.
The memo describes “party and play” sessions in which Buck allegedly paid men he sometimes solicited from online gay male dating and escort sites to use drugs he provided, and perform sexual acts.
Buck is represented by Christopher Darden, best known for being part of the prosecution team in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson.
If convicted, each of the two charges of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death carry 20-year mandatory minimums. The trial is expected to last about 10 days.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)