WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- A federal charge has been filed against Democratic donor Ed Buck for allegedly providing the drugs that led to the death of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore at Buck's West Hollywood home in 2017, prosecutors announced Thursday.
The 65-year-old defendant was charged with one count of distribution of methamphetamines resulting in death, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.
Buck was transferred to federal custody after appearing Thursday morning in state court in connection with the overdose of another man on Sept. 11 at the same residence, the sources said.
"This is the place we resolve our issues," Buck's attorney, Seymour Amster, said outside the courtroom. "We do not feel that race played any part of this case - before it was filed or when it's been filed."
Held on $4 million bail, Buck made a brief appearance in federal court Thursday afternoon and the detention hearing was continued until Sept. 26, with Buck staying in custody at least until then. No plea was entered during Thursday's appearance.
If convicted as charged in the federal case, Buck faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life without parole, prosecutors said.
"The criminal complaint alleging that Mr. Buck caused the death of Mr. Moore is supported by a 21-page affidavit that outlines a disturbing pattern of Mr. Buck soliciting other men for sex in exchange for drugs and money," U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna said at a news conference.
Buck was arrested Tuesday evening for allegedly "maintaining a drug house" and injecting the victim with methamphetamine in the latter overdose, the third to occur at his home since the summer of 2017, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. The first two incidents were fatal.
"That man was a danger to the public, but specifically to black gay men in Los Angeles County who he preyed upon," community activist Jasmyne Cannick told reporters outside the courthouse.
Moore's body was found at the same apartment on July 27, 2017. The county coroner's office ruled that Moore's death was caused by an accidental methamphetamine overdose. His family has called for prosecutors to charge Buck with a crime.
The January overdose death of 55-year-old Timothy Dean at the same location was also ruled accidental.
"We've had so many naysayers tell us that we would never see this day, 'Ed Buck will never be arrested,'" said Jerome Kitchen. "This is just a small step towards victory for my brother, for Timothy Dean and all the other victims."
Court filing details alleged pattern of behavior
The affidavit from federal investigators provides horrifying allegations spelling out a long and repeated pattern of behavior by Buck involving at least 10 known victims.
In some of the cases, the victims allege that Buck forced them to inject drugs, injected them while they were unconscious, or pressured them to take higher quantities than they were used to consuming.
Many of them were believed to be male prostitutes that Buck either met through a website or in an area of Hollywood known for drug use and prostitution.
One man, identified as Victim 6, told investigators "Buck was nicknamed 'Doctor Kevorkian' and was well known for compensating male prostitutes with drugs and money."
The behavior allegedly continued unabated even after Moore and another man died in his home from overdoses.
In some of the cases, the documents allege, Buck gave the victim a drink which caused them to pass out and he injected them with drugs while they were unconscious.
One person, identified only as Victim 2, told investigators he had fallen asleep on Buck's couch in July 2017 "and when he woke up his arm was tied to the couch, and was red and sore," the court papers say. "Victim 2 stated that he believed Buck injected him with drugs while Victim 2 was asleep."
Victim 7 told investigators Buck offered him pills and a clear soda "but after Victim 7 drank the clear soda Buck gave him, he became sleepy and began losing control over his physical movements."
He said he passed out and when he woke, Buck was approaching him with two syringes loaded with methamphetamine.
On another occasion, Victim 7 injected himself with what he thought was methamphetamine but he then became unable to move for six or seven hours. When Buck became frustrated and wanted him to leave, he got a power saw from a closet, turned it on and approached him. The fear gave him enough adrenaline to stand up and eventually walk, he said.
Another person, identified as Victim 8, said Buck provided him with a drink he thought was vodka, but after drinking it he fell asleep. He said when he woke up, Buck was injecting him with a drug. He said he couldn't move, he felt pain in his body and there were metal clips fastened to his nipples.
The documents also detail some of the alleged interactions between Moore and Buck. They say Moore was living in Texas but would at times travel to Los Angeles to meet with Buck for drugs and sex.
It quotes one text message conversation between Moore and Buck:
"Moore messaged Buck, 'Hey mr Buck' and sent a photograph of the waist/crotch area of an individual and stated, 'Gemmel your master slave.' Buck responded, 'Or slave master.'"
Moore later texted Buck with a photo of a person's arm with a tourniquet around it and a syringe inserted it and a text message stating just "?" Buck responded "Be here now."
Some criticized the district attorney for not filing charges sooner, alleging Buck's ties to Democratic politicians helped protect him.
"We investigated his case the same as we did everyone else," District Attorney Jackie Lacey said.
Ed Buck case: Federal court papers detail disturbing allegations involving drugs and sex