LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A federal judge approved an April trial date for California political donor Ed Buck, who is accused of giving drugs to a man who died at his West Hollywood apartment after allegedly being lured across state lines for prostitution.
Buck, 66, is facing nine felony counts in Los Angeles federal court. He also faces state charges of running a drug den, but the federal case will proceed first, on April 19. During a Zoom hearing Wednesday, a final status conference was scheduled by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder for April 12.
Buck was arrested in September 2019 after being charged in federal court with providing methamphetamine to a man who died after receiving the drug intravenously. He now faces additional charges, including a count alleging that he enticed 26-year-old Gemmel Moore to travel to the Los Angeles area to engage in prostitution. Buck allegedly provided meth to Moore, who overdosed on the drug and died on July 27, 2017.
Buck is charged with a second count of enticing a man to travel with the intent of engaging in prostitution. He is also accused of knowingly and intentionally distributing meth, and using his apartment for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as meth, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.
Federal prosecutors allege that Buck ``engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that Buck provided and perform sexual acts at Buck's apartment,'' a practice described as ``party and play,'' according to court papers.
Buck allegedly solicited victims on social media platforms, including a gay dating website, and used a recruiter to scout and proposition men. Once the men were at his apartment, Buck allegedly prepared syringes containing meth, sometimes personally injecting the victims with or without their consent, according to the indictment.
Buck also allegedly injected victims with more narcotics than they expected and sometimes injected victims while they were unconscious. Another victim, Timothy Dean, also suffered a fatal overdose in Buck's apartment, on Jan. 7, 2019, according to the indictment.
Each of the charges alleging the distribution of narcotics resulting in death carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years in federal prison and possible maximum of life without parole.
In state court, Buck faces charges, including operating a drug house, that were filed two years ago by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Buck has repeatedly attempted to persuade a federal judge to grant him bail, most recently in September when his attorneys argued that their client should be released from the downtown federal lockup due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently moving through jails and prisons. Buck had offered to post a $400,000 signature bond and submit to electronic monitoring and home confinement.
However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Rozella A. Oliver found that the proposed bond conditions were insufficient to ensure Buck's presence at trial, given the incentives to flee. She also determined that Buck would pose a danger to the community if allowed to leave jail before his trial, now expected in April.
As for the threat of COVID-19, the judge said defense attorneys did not show that the Metropolitan Detention Center was unable to handle Buck's medical needs, and that he didn't have any medical conditions that put him at elevated risk for the virus, beyond his age.
Federal prosecutors allege Buck has a history of injecting men with drugs and paying them for sexual activity and emphasized in a court filing that a judge's ruling denying pretrial release on grounds of danger to the community was correct.
Photo: Getty Images