Jury selection will begin Tuesday in the federal criminal trial of former political donor Ed Buck.
Buck, 66, is charged with nine counts, including providing methamphetamine to two men who overdosed and died in his West Hollywood apartment.
Prosecutors allege Buck had a “fetish” for paying black men to allow him to inject them with methamphetamine – even when they were passed out. He also faces state charges for running a drug den, but the federal case continues first.
Buck lured vulnerable and homeless homosexuals, drug addicts or working as escorts, to his Laurel Avenue apartment, where he provided drugs in exchange for sexual activity, according to a lawsuit memorandum.
The alleged practice became fatal when Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean died of overdoses, prosecutors said.
Buck’s attorney, Christopher Darden, best known for being part of the prosecution team in the OJ Simpson murder trial, did not respond to a request for comment.
Future jurors in Los Angeles federal court should be asked about their past experiences with drugs and their views on prostitution, homelessness and witnesses who cooperate with law enforcement, according to court documents.
Federal prosecutors also want to know if potential panelists or their friends or family have ever had a drug problem, or if close friends or relatives were drugged against their will.
“Has a close friend or relative died of a drug overdose? Is one of the questions on the government’s proposed jury list.
Other questions during the voir dire, or jury selection, include whether “do you have any strong personal beliefs or opinions about prostitution?” Do you believe that an adult who wants to pay for sexual activity with another adult should be able to do so?
Potential jurors could also be asked if they have strong beliefs or opinions regarding homelessness, as well as what they think of people who may have broken the law and are cooperating with the prosecution.
Buck faces nine counts of felony, including two counts of distributing controlled substances resulting in death. The charges stem from the deaths of Moore, 26, in July 2017 and Dean in January 2019. If convicted, each of the two charges carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years.
Buck is also accused of knowingly instigating Moore into going to Los Angeles to prostitute himself and providing him with crystal meth before he overdosed on drugs and died.
Buck faces a second count of instigating another man to travel with the intent to engage in prostitution, a count of knowingly and intentionally distributing methamphetamine and a count of using his apartment in West Hollywood for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as methamphetamine, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.
At the apartment, Buck “ritualistically prepared methamphetamine syringes; some victims report that he asked them to watch him do it, ”according to the memo.
“Buck’s preference was to personally inject the victims, and he pressured or instigated the victims to let him do so, sometimes offering large cash bounties to coerce a victim into accepting an injection or additional injections. D ‘other times, Buck simply injected victims while they were unconscious. “
The memo describes “party and play” sessions in which Buck allegedly paid men he had sometimes solicited on gay male dating and online escorts sites to use drugs he provided and engage in sexual acts.
“During these party and play sessions, the accused distributed drugs, including methamphetamine, clonazepam and GHB, to his victims and, in some cases, injected them with intravenous drugs as part of the of a practice known as “slamming”, “prosecutors wrote.
“The accused wielded power and control over his victims, typically targeting vulnerable people who were destitute, homeless and / or struggling with drug addiction, and exploited the relative wealth and power imbalance among them by offering them money to use drugs and letting Buck inject them with drugs. “
Buck was arrested in September 2019 after being charged in federal court with providing the methamphetamine that resulted in Moore’s overdose death. He was charged weeks later in connection with Dean’s death.
“Unfortunately, none of these deaths dissuaded the accused from continuing to distribute methamphetamine at parties and games,” prosecutors say.
Buck has been held in a downtown federal prison since his arrest.
The trial is expected to last around 10 days.