On Sept. 25, West Hollywood’s Democratic donor Edward Buck, who is being charged with nine federal counts, asked Judge Rozella Oliver for a hearing to be released on bail until his trial.
The prominent activist and fundraiser, 65, reportedly suffers from gum disease and is concerned that he may contract the coronavirus while in custody. However, the judge argued that there is no sign that the Metropolitan Detention Center in Downtown LA is unable to handle Buck’s medical condition, and that Buck doesn’t show any other health issues that could put him at risk for COVID-19.
Buck’s attorneys, Ludlow Creary II and Christopher Darden, pointed to Buck’s high-profile connections with the WeHo neighborhood and the work he did for the community and insisted he is not a flight risk. Buck also agreed to surrender his passport, be monitored electronically, and sign a $400,000 appearance bond.
Meanwhile, a petition called “No Bail for Ed Buck” organized by activist Jasmyne Cannick, circled the internet, attracting over 4,400 signatures, just short of the 5,000 signature goal to prevent Judge Oliver from agreeing to set Buck on bail.
The petition is still active on social media, supported on Twitter by @ColorOfChange.
Since Buck has available funds, the petition argues he might try to escape and not face the charges, stating that “with at least $3.4 million in liquid assets, Ed Buck is a flight risk and a danger to the community. There’s no guarantee that he will stick around to face charges in the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean.”
However, Darden told The New York Times (NYT) that his client’s funds are “well under $2 million.”
“Confining Buck to his ‘home’ doesn’t guarantee the safety of the community—in fact, it’s just the opposite,” the petition states. “Even if the courts mandated that Buck cannot use a computer, fly people into town, or use social media dating sites, there is nothing in his history to indicate that Buck would change his previous behavior that led to the deaths of two men and the near-deaths of countless others.”
Eventually, Judge Oliver denied the bail request, saying Buck is too much of a flight risk and a potential danger to community members.
Buck allegedly coerced Gemmel Moore, who traveled interstate for sex work, and Timothy Dean into his WeHo apartment, and administered methamphetamine to both men. Both victims died from overdoses.
Moore, who died on July 27, 2017 and Dean who died on January 7, 2019, drew media attention to Buck but that didn’t lead to his arrest. Cannick became the spokesperson for the families of Moore and Dean and tried to get District Attorney Jackie Lacey to arrest Buck.
The third victim, an unidentified man, referred to as “Joe Doe” in court documents, was able to escape Buck’s apartment and call 911, allegedly saying Buck injected him with methamphetamine. His case led to Buck’s arrest on September 17, 2019.
Shortly after, a grand jury returned a five-count indictment, charging Buck with being “engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that Buck provided and perform sexual acts at Buck’s apartment,” known on hook-up apps as “party and play.”
In addition, Buck faces federal charges of operating a drug den. His trial is set for January 2021.