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Democratic donor Ed Buck indicted in drug overdose deaths of two men

The federal indictment adds a second alleged victim to an earlier charge that Buck distributed meth that resulted in death.
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Ed Buck, center, interrupts California Republican Party gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's campaign event in Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2010.Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images file

LOS ANGELES — Ed Buck, the wealthy Democratic political donor and LGBTQ activist accused of running an illegal drug den out of his home, was charged in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday with distributing drugs that resulted in the deaths of two men.

Buck, 65, of West Hollywood, could face 20 years to life in prison on each of two counts charging him with distributing narcotics that led to the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, who died after they overdosed on meth in July 2017 and January, respectively.

Buck, who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to California candidates, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, was arrested Sept. 15 on state charges in connection with the life-threatening drug overdose of an unidentified 37-year-old man earlier this month. That man survived, authorities said.

Four days later, Buck was charged in federal court in connection with the death of Moore, 26. Wednesday's indictment adds Dean, 55, as a second alleged victim.

The indictment alleges that Buck "engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that Buck provided and perform sexual acts at Buck's apartment," which prosecutors described as "party and play." It alleges that Buck solicited victims on social media, including a gay dating website, and used a recruiter to scout and proposition men.

"Buck exerted power over his victims, often targeting vulnerable individuals who were destitute, homeless, and/or struggled with drug addiction, in order to exploit the relative wealth and power imbalance between them," the indictment alleges.

Buck, whom the indictment also charged with three counts of distributing methamphetamine to other men over the last two years, remained held without bond. Through his attorney, he has repeatedly denied having had any role in the deaths.

The original federal complaint this month included allegations from nine people who said Buck either administered drugs to them or strongly encouraged them to ingest drugs in exchange for sex. Witnesses said Buck gave Moore drugs and money in exchange for engaging in sexual activities, the complaint said.

Buck had skirted charges in the deaths of Moore and Dean until prosecutors announced his arrest after the most recent overdose victim escaped his home this month.

"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," Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, whose district is near West Hollywood, said Sept. 19.

"Everyone knew that he preyed on young black men," Bass said. "The inaction in response had a message that was loud and clear: Black gay lives obviously didn't matter."