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Democratic Donor Ed Buck Found Guilty In Cases Of 2 Overdose Deaths

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In California, a prominent Democratic Party fundraiser and gay rights activist, Ed Buck, has been found guilty on nine felony charges in federal court. Those include two counts of giving methamphetamine to men who died of an overdose at Buck's West Hollywood apartment on two different occasions. Robert Garrova of member station KPCC reports from Los Angeles.

ROBERT GARROVA, BYLINE: Evidence at the nine-day federal court trial showed that Buck spent years hosting party-and-play sessions at his apartment, where he would get men to do drugs and perform sexual activities. On two occasions, Buck's actions turned deadly. Gemmel Moore died of an overdose in 2017. Timothy Dean died in 2019. Both victims were Black. Buck is white.

(CHEERING)

GARROVA: After the verdict was read, about a dozen family, friends and supporters of Moore and Dean gathered for a press conference outside the federal courthouse. They were specifically congratulating writer and political strategist Jasmyne Cannick, who fought for years to bring attention to the case. Cannick says family and friends of the victims feel vindicated.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

JASMYNE CANNICK: Ed Buck is going to pay for the crimes he committed, not just to their loved ones but to an entire community of Black men here.

GARROVA: In 2018, a former Los Angeles district attorney declined to prosecute Buck for Moore's death after an investigation. Activists said the DA wasn't aggressive because the victims were Black, gay, drug users and sometimes homeless, and Buck was a powerful white man.

Cory McLean was a longtime friend of Moore's and enjoyed traveling with him across the U.S. He says he moved to LA from New York to advocate for justice for Moore.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

CORY MCLEAN: It's been a long fight for the last four years, taking everyone down as far as the sheriff, the district attorney and to bring justice to this case. So, for me, it's relieving that his story wasn't just put out there and looked over, but we actually got the results that we looked for.

GARROVA: Buck's attorney did not respond to a request for comment. At 66, Ed Buck faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years in federal prison.

For NPR News, I'm Robert Garrova in Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF GAUSSIAN CURVE'S "T.O.R.") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.