Ed Buck, a onetime Democratic donor and activist, was sentenced by a federal judge in Los Angeles on Thursday to 30 years in prison for giving two men fatal doses of methamphetamine at his West Hollywood apartment, prosecutors said.
The sentencing concludes Mr. Buck’s extraordinary turn from a prominent activist to a predator. The two men, Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, died 18 months apart at what the Justice Department had called “party and play” sessions at Mr. Buck’s apartment. Prosecutors said he lured men to sex-fueled parties and drugged them from 2011 to 2019.
Judge Christina A. Snyder of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California sentenced Mr. Buck, 67, after he was found guilty in July 2021 of nine charges connected to methamphetamine distribution resulting in death, prostitution and maintaining a drug-involved premises, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a statement on Thursday.
The judge scheduled a hearing next month to determine how much restitution Mr. Buck would owe.
Mr. Buck had faced between 20 years and life in federal prison, the Justice Department said last year.
Tracy L. Wilkison, the U.S. attorney for the district, said in the statement on Thursday that she hoped the sentence would bring solace to the victims’ families.
“This defendant preyed on vulnerable victims – men who were drug-dependent and often without homes – to feed an obsession that led to death and misery,” she said.
Mr. Moore died in July 2017 and Mr. Dean died in January 2019.
Mr. Buck’s lawyer, Mark J. Werksman, said on Thursday that he planned to appeal what he called an “excessive sentence.”
“The deaths were tragic. His being charged and convicted was tragic. The sentence was tragic, ”he said. “None of this should’ve happened.”
Mr. Buck’s victims were often Black men whom he found online or through his previous victims, the US Attorney’s Office said. He would inject them at his apartment with syringes full of methamphetamine, sometimes while they were unconscious.
At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Buck told Judge Snyder that he was not the “meth-fueled ax killer” that he said prosecutors had portrayed him to be, NBC Los Angeles reported.
“These are men I cared for and loved,” he said. “I did not cause their deaths.”
Jasmyne Cannick, a political activist and a spokeswoman for the families of Mr. Moore and Mr. Dean, said that even though Mr. Buck was sentenced on Thursday, the families were not done pursuing justice. Both have filed wrongful-death lawsuits against him that were put on hold until his criminal case was over, she said.
Still, she said, “it’s an important chapter that is closed.”
Mr. Buck’s double life began to unravel in January 2019 after Mr. Dean, his second victim, was found dead in the same manner as Mr. Moore was discovered 18 months earlier. Both were gay Black men.
The second death raised suspicions about what was happening in Mr. Buck’s apartment. Crowds of protesters gathered outside the apartment building demanding justice.
But he was not arrested or charged until September 2019, a week after a third man overdosed at Mr. Buck’s apartment. The man survived.
Mr. Buck was a longtime activist who had donated at least $ 116,000 over his lifetime to Democratic candidates and groups. He became nationally recognized in the 1980s, when he was a Republican, for leading a recall effort against a Republican governor in Arizona.
He retired when he was 32, by his account, after having made a fortune in the insurance service business. He modeled for a few years in Europe.