Ed Buck, a wealthy donor to Democratic candidates, was convicted Tuesday of charges stemming from the deaths of two Black men whom he lured into his apartment and then supplied with meth during so-called “party and play” sessions as part of an apparent fetish.
After an explosive federal trial that reportedly included videos and photos so graphic that the judge was worried about inflicting trauma on jurors, Buck was found guilty of nine counts altogether, including enticement to cross state lines to engage in prostitution, using his apartment as a drug den, and supplying the meth that killed the two men.
At a minimum, he faces decades in prison, and could be sentenced to life.
The case was as bizarre as it was brutal. For years, according to prosecutors, Buck enticed vulnerable, sometimes homeless, and mostly Black men into his Los Angeles home, where he’d offer cash to inject them with meth during sexual encounters. Videos from those meet-ups showed Buck instructing men on how to smoke meth to his satisfaction.
A man named Carlos even testified that Buck offered him $200 to do meth and “prance around in underwear” while he was living in a homeless encampment, according to the Los Angeles Times. One night, Carlos testified he woke up in Buck’s home only to see Buck injecting him with meth.
Buck’s predatory behavior finally garnered scrutiny when two Black men—Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean—died of overdoses in his apartment over a two-year period in various states of undress, surrounded by syringes and sex toys.
Still, even that wasn’t enough to immediately put Buck behind bars; he wasn’t arrested until a third man overdosed in his home, in September 2019, nine months after Dean’s death and more than two years after Moore’s.
The third man, who was able to flee the apartment after Buck injected him with a large dose of meth, survived, according to the Los Angeles Times. Soon after that, Buck was charged with running a drug house and administering methamphetamine to Moore, according to NPR. The case eventually grew to include additional charges of drug distribution and enticing people to travel to California for prostitution.
But by the time he was arrested, some officials were critical of just how long it took law enforcement to go after Buck.
“It's incomprehensible to me that it took a third black gay man to be attacked and almost die to finally dissolve the unconscionable apathy that has allowed Ed Buck, a racist sexual predator, to roam free,” Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat, said in 2019, after Buck was arrested, according to NBC News. “Everyone knew that he preyed on young black men. ... The inaction in response had a message was loud and clear: Black gay lives obviously didn't matter.”
Buck’s defense attorney maintained that Moore and Dean didn’t die from meth, and that the men were at Buck’s apartment under their own free will, according to the Associated Press. Buck had pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.