It took two years and two dead men for Democratic megadonor Ed Buck to be arrested. For jurors in his case, it could take a lifetime to unsee what allegedly happened inside his apartment.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Buck donated over half a million dollars to politicians — almost all Democrats, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Rep. Ted Lieu — and was a member of California’s electoral college delegation in 2016.
He made his money by selling an Arizona courier company for roughly $1 million before moving to the gay-friendly Los Angeles neighborhood of West Hollywood in the early 1990s, according to KCBS-TV, where he became known for his LGBT and animal rights activism.
As KCBS reported, it wasn’t too long ago that Buck “was rubbing elbows with some of the Democratic party’s biggest stars — donating tens of thousands of dollars to various candidates and causes.” Now, when the 66-year-old Buck leaves prison, it’s to go to a courtroom, where he’s on trial for supplying the drugs that killed two black men involved in a sexual game known as “party and play.”
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported just how sordid “party and play” got — sordid enough the judge warned the prosecution against presenting its evidence against Buck in a way that would traumatize the jury and said they might well have to provide counseling for the men and women who decide Buck’s fate.
Buck’s repeated pattern was to hire black men, almost always homeless or desperately poor, on gay hookup websites to do drugs with him, often to the point where they would lose consciousness or overdose. Two allegedly died from this — Gemmel Moore, 26, and Timothy Dean, 55.
Prosecutors said the men were often unaware of what drugs they were ingesting — and, in some cases, Buck would inject them with drugs against their will while they were sleeping.
The Times reported Buck “usually paid them a few hundred dollars — less if they refused to let him inject meth into their arms, the men told the jury. After hours of partying, they would stagger out the door in what one neighbor watching the daily foot traffic described as a ‘drunken stupor.’
“The sordid details of what took place in the apartment are laid bare in hundreds of videos and photos Buck took of the men smoking or injecting meth naked or in the white underwear that he had them try on for his pleasure.”
Prosecutors called the doors to Buck’s West Hollywood apartment “the gates of hell,” and not without reason.
“Hanging on Buck’s living-room wall was a floor-to-ceiling red cloth, backlit to highlight a pattern of flaming skulls,” the Times reported. “On the floor was a mattress where Buck got the men high on crystal meth — the spot where Moore and Dean died 18 months apart.
“Next to the couch, Buck kept a red Craftsman tool chest packed with drugs and paraphernalia: syringes for shooting up, straws for snorting, glass pipes for smoking, photos presented at the trial show. When he was arrested in September 2019, investigators found Narcan, an overdose treatment, in one of the drawers.”
The outlet reported that in the videos, Buck would often give stage directions to the men: “Stare directly into the camera, flare your nostrils and blow it out slowly,” he told one of the men as he smoked drugs. “Now, if you add wide-open eyes to that, it would be a perfect shot.”
Meanwhile, a series of bizarre videos — stomach-churning to even hear about — involved Buck telling various men to blow meth smoke through plastic tubing that reached down to their underwear, where clouds of it would filter through the cloth.
Moore, Buck’s first alleged victim, was in one of these videos. Other videos and text messages indicate Buck pressured Moore to inject, or “slam,” methamphetamine.
In one video, Moore told Buck, “I don’t know if I can handle another slam.” He also texted Buck that he regretted injecting but that Buck’s offer of $500 to slam the drug was too good to refuse.
Later, he seemed more eager to try the drug, saying “I just need u to trust me and have my Slam READY!!!!” Days after that, however, Moore told Buck he “nearly overdosed” and said, “I honestly do need to stay away from you.”
“I’m spending 18 hours at your house getting high and wasting time and slamming and swallowing dozens of Viagra for nothing,” Moore said. “Slamming isn’t worth it.”
In July of 2017, Moore died in Buck’s apartment of a methamphetamine overdose, according to KNBC-TV. Yet, it took more than two years for prosecutors to build a case against Buck, the Los Angeles Times reported. In the interim, Dean died of an overdose. Another man nearly died before escaping to a gas station to call 911.
It wasn’t necessarily for lack of evidence: “In the weeks that followed [Moore’s death], as activists from the black and LGBTQ communities contended that Buck was a dangerous predator, two more men came forward and told investigators Buck had pumped methamphetamine into their bodies against their will, court records show,” the Times reported.
“A West Hollywood councilwoman said she, too, tried to urge the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to take the stories seriously.”
Reading an account of these things is enough to make you sick. Imagine what it’ll be like watching it unfold.
“Videos shown at the trial are so graphic that U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder urged prosecutors to be careful how aggressively they present evidence that could traumatize jurors,” the Times reported.
“It may well be that we offer counseling to them at the end of the case,” she said.
It’s unclear how much money Ed Buck spent on Democratic candidates over the years that has yet to be returned or donated to charitable causes. However, maybe some enterprising individual can track it down and shame the politicians who benefitted from his largesse to pay for that counseling.
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