Ed Buck Convicted In WeHo “Party And Play” Deaths

Just in via press release from the Justice Department:

A West Hollywood man was found guilty by a federal jury today of nine felonies, including that he provided fatal doses of methamphetamine to two men who died at his apartment after being injected with the drug.

Edward Buck, 66, was found guilty of two counts of distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death, four counts of distribution of methamphetamine, one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises, and two counts of enticement to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution.

According to evidence presented at his nine-day trial, beginning no later than 2011 and continuing through September 2019, Buck engaged in a pattern of “party and play,” or soliciting men to consume narcotics that he provided and perform sexual activities at his apartment.

In these party-and-play sessions, Buck distributed drugs, including methamphetamine, and, in some instances, injected victims with drugs intravenously in a practice known as “slamming.”

Buck solicited his victims in various ways, including using social media platforms, dating and escort websites, or via referrals from his prior victims, including individuals he hired to do other work for him, offering a finder’s fee for referrals.

Buck exerted power and control over his victims, typically targeting individuals who were destitute, homeless or struggling with drug addiction. He exploited the wealth and power balance between them by offering his victims money to use drugs and to let Buck inject them with narcotics.

Once the men were at his apartment, Buck prepared syringes containing methamphetamine, sometimes personally injecting the victims with or without their consent. Buck also injected victims with more narcotics than they expected and sometimes injected victims while they were unconscious.

United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder will schedule a sentencing hearing at a later date, at which time Buck will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison. Buck is currently in federal custody in this case.

More from the New York Times:

The conviction is a significant turning point in a saga that led to protests from people arguing he should have been charged sooner and accusing him of preying on gay Black men. A majority of the 11 victims named in the charges filed against Mr. Buck, who is white, were Black men, including Mr. Moore, who died in July 2017, and Mr. Dean who died in January 2019. “I feel vindicated because they listened to us,” Dane Brown, 39, who testified at the trial.

Mr. Brown, who is Black, said he overdosed at Mr. Buck’s apartment after Mr. Buck injected him with drugs. “It felt like I was about to die,” Mr. Brown said. Jasmyne Cannick, a Los Angeles-based political strategist who started the activist group Justice4Gemmel + All of Ed Buck’s Victims, said Mr. Buck’s conviction was a turning point for racial justice for gay and homeless Black men, and would hopefully set a precedent for others with power who preyed on them.

My 2019 reports on Buck are here and here.