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High-profile West Hollywood political donor gets 30 years in fetish death case

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Ed Buck in September 2019 — Photo by Damian Dovarganes / AP
Ed Buck in September 2019 — Photo by Damian Dovarganes / AP

Ed Buck killed two men in his California apartment before a third's story of survival led to his arrest in 2019. Buck, a prominent donor to LGBTQ+ and Democratic causes, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, who Buck killed via lethal injection of methamphetamine.

Moore was found dead in Buck's' apartment July 27, 2017. Dean's body was found January 7, 2019. During the investigation of Moore's death, Buck continued to pay Gay men so he could inject them for his own sexual gratification. Even after two deaths, Buck's transgressions persisted.

"Buck's lack of remorse is aptly captured in one image: As he was hiding out in a hotel, evading arrest for Gemmel Moore's death, he was injecting Dane Brown, another young Black man, with back-to-back slams of methamphetamine," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Norrell in a court filing.

Dane Brown was hospitalized on September 4, 2019, after being shot up three doses of meth. According to prosecutors, Brown had five times the amount of methamphetamine in his system than Dean and Moore when they had died. Brown, homeless at the time, returned to Buck' apartment less than a week later.

Soon after, he felt himself immobilized and overdosing. According to Brown, Buck refused to help him. Brown managed to escape the apartment and call for help at a nearby gas station.

On Thursday, April 14, Buck, 67, stood before a federal judge and said he was not responsible.

"Their deaths were tragic," he told the court, "but I did not cause their deaths."

Federal prosecutors said that Buck's unrelenting desire to satisfy a fetish by preying on young, vulnerable, often Black men, should be enough to give him a life sentence.

Ed Buck via Facebook from August 2017  

Who is Ed Buck?
Born Edward Bernard Peter Buckmelter in 1954, Ed Buck grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. At the age of 16, according to a 2017 article from WEHOville, and worked as a model in Europe shortly after. Buck made his fortune by buying an Arizona-based company out of bankruptcy and selling it 5 years later.

Buck was active in politics in the 80s as a Republican, leading the campaign to impeach Republican Arizona Governor Evan Mecham in '87 and becoming a "household name in Arizona" according to The Arizona Republic. Buck switched his affiliation to Democrat in '88.

Buck retired to West Hollywood at 32 and spent his time in politics donating to LGBTQ+ causes and running a campaign to ban the sale of fur in Los Angeles.

During his time in LA as a political advocate, he also operated a drug den out of his rent-controlled West Hollywood apartment. Detractors say the rich, white Buck used his wealth, race, and connections to avoid the consequences of his crimes for years.

"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," said Norell. "He spent thousands of dollars on drugs and party and play sessions that destroyed lives and bred insidious addictions."

Though the prosecution aimed for a life sentence, Buck's defense lawyers say the current sentence may as well be considered a life sentence due to his age.?

"It was a tremendous honor to be able to vindicate the rights of the victims in the case," said Norell when the conviction was announced.