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Democratic megadonor Ed Buck guilty in party and play drug deaths

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Ed Buck, a prominent liberal activist who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates, was convicted Tuesday of injecting men with methamphetamine in exchange for sex, causing two deaths.

A federal jury convicted Buck of two counts of meth distribution resulting in death as well as three other charges following deliberations that lasted for more than four hours following a two-week trial. The 66-year-old will face a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison at his sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled.

The verdict was handed down four years to the day after 26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found dead of a drug overdose in Buck’s West Hollywood apartment. An investigation revealed that Buck had purchased a plane ticket for Moore, who was black, to fly from Texas to Los Angeles to “party and play” with the older white man.

“The party is the drugs, the play is the sex,” Assistant US Attorney Chelsea Norell told jurors in her opening statement. “If they didn’t party, he wasn’t interested.”

Moore’s family and activists had pushed for Buck’s arrest, charging that his wealth, political connections and his race precluded him from facing consequences. Despite the clamor, Buck was left free to pursue his fetish for another two years after Moore’s death.

“Today is bittersweet,” LaTisha Nixon, Moore’s mother, said after the verdict. “We got victory today.”

In January 2019, 55-year-old Timothy Dean died from a meth overdose, again in Buck’s apartment. Before Buck was arrested that September, a third companion of his ODed twice in one week in the apartment and only survived thanks to timely medical intervention.

That man, Dane Brown, told investigators he had been living in a hotel on Skid Row when he met Buck on Adam4Adam, a gay dating and escort site, and moved in with him for part of summer 2019.

Brown said Buck injected him with meth nearly daily for five weeks, according to court documents. After his second overdose, Brown said Buck refused to call an ambulance and Brown was forced to call 911 at a nearby gas station.

“I didn’t think I was going to believed,” Brown said after the verdict. “Walking out of that house, I didn’t know what was going to happen next.”

“This man did some terrible things to human beings,” Joann Campbell, one of Dean’s sisters, told the Associated Press.

Prosecutors said Buck exploited desperate men who were homeless or struggling with drug addiction — many of them black — to satisfy his sexual proclivities.

Buck’s defense team was led by onetime O.J. Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden, who claimed that Buck “did nothing to cause the death of any person.” Darden alleged that neither Moore nor Dean died from methamphetamine overdoses and went to Buck’s apartment of their own volition. Darden also described Buck’s partners as “manipulative people” who took advantage of his generosity to get money and drugs and who had “every reason to exaggerate their experiences.”

Buck, who had given more than $500,000 to mostly Democratic politicians — including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — and causes since 2000, was also convicted of four counts of meth distribution, one count of keeping a drug den and two more counts of enticement to cross state lines for prostitution.

“Ed Buck will never harm anyone else,” said Joyce Jackson, another of Dean’s sisters, “and I thank God for that.”

With Post wires

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