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Democratic donor Ed Buck faces additional charges linked to overdose deaths

The new charges allege that Ed Buck enticed men to travel across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.
Edward Buck
Ed Buck appears in Los Angeles Superior Court on Sept. 19, 2019.Damian Dovarganes / AP file

Democratic Party donor Ed Buck, who has been accused of plying men with drugs during sexual encounters, is facing new charges.

Prosecutors say Buck solicited men to consume drugs and perform sexual acts at his West Hollywood apartment. Once there, officials say, he allegedly injected the men with or without their consent. He sometimes injected victims while they were unconscious, according to prosecutors.

Buck was previously charged with distributing methamphetamine that led to the overdose deaths of two men at his apartment. He pleaded not guilty to those charges last year.

On Tuesday, a grand jury returned new counts against the 65-year-old including allegations of luring men across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.

Buck is accused of distributing narcotics gamma hydroxybutyric acid and clonazepam, sedatives that the DEA has described as date-rape drugs.

The four felony charges introduced Tuesday are in addition to five counts filed last year, including distribution of methamphetamine and distribution of narcotics resulting in death.

The grand jury folded all nine counts against Buck, who is being held in federal custody without bond, into one filing as a "superseding indictment" Tuesday, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles.

"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 initial indictment in October alleged.

Buck's attorney, Christopher Darden, said via email Tuesday night that he would not comment until he sees the new indictment.

Gemmel Moore.

Gemmel Moore, 26, died of a methamphetamine overdose July 27, 2017, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner said. The cause was initially described as accidental, and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said there was nothing to investigate.

“There isn't anything suspicious about it,” Lt. Edward Ramirez said at the time. "There's nothing pointing toward death at the hands of another, so it's not something we would do any follow-up on."

But Moore's mother, LaTisha Nixon, challenged officials and has said that Moore returned to his home state of Texas because he was afraid of Buck. She said her son wrote about Buck in a diary as a sexual partner who had injected him with methamphetamine in a previous encounter.

Nixon said Buck purchased a plane ticket so he could return to the Los Angeles area a day before his death. The sheriff's department opened an investigation in August 2017 into Moore's death after Nixon received press inquires about her son's plight.

On Tuesday, Nixon said by email that she was pleased additional charges had been filed and that "We are looking forward to our day in court in 2021."

Buck was under investigation on Jan. 7, 2019, when another man, Timothy Dean, suffered a fatal overdose in his apartment. In September, citing the case of a man who overdosed on methamphetamine that month and survived, Los Angeles County prosecutors charged Buck with "operating a drug house."

The families of both deceased men have filed civil claims against Buck.

Federal election records show that Buck, who has advocated for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues for decades, has donated more than $50,000 to Democratic candidates and to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since 2008.

He has posed for photos with Hillary Clinton and former California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Several Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, and former state Senator Kevin de Leon, have returned Buck's campaign donations.

The four new counts each carry maximum sentences of 60 years, the U.S. Attorney's office said.