Noted political donor and activist Ed Buck has filed a new request to be released from custody while he awaits trial on charges of supplying illegal drugs to two men who died inside his West Hollywood apartment.
Buck, 65, has argued he is at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 while in jail due to his age and because he says he suffers from gum disease and needs specialized cardiac care.
Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to keep Buck in custody, citing the risk of flight and the potential danger to the community if he was released.
Buck’s defense attorneys, Christopher Darden and Ludlow Creary, II, argued in a motion filed last week that Buck has long ties to the community and would not flee if released. They said Buck would sign a $400,000 appearance bond, surrender his passport, and would agree to electronic monitoring if released.
Buck has been in custody since he was arrested by LA County Sheriff’s Department deputies on Sept. 17. He was quickly turned-over to federal authorities and was indicted on a charge of distributing methamphetamine resulting in the deaths of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore, in July, 2017, and Timothy Dean, 55, who died in Buck’s apartment in January, 2019.
The indictment also charged Buck with three counts of distributing methamphetamine to three other men between 2018 and 2019. Buck could face a sentence of between 20 years and life in prison if he’s convicted on the federal charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
At an initial detention hearing last fall U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Walsh briefly considered whether Buck would be a flight risk or a danger to the community if allowed out on bond.
“I don’t see anything that would alleviate my concern about danger,” Judge Walsh said.
Buck did not object to being held in jail until trial.
Two days before the initial federal charge was filed, Buck was charged in state court with battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine, and maintaining a drug house. He pleaded not guilty.
The LA County District Attorney’s Office said those charges stemmed from the life threatening drug overdoses of a man identified in court documents as, “Joe Doe,” on Sept. 4 and 11, 2019, but were otherwise unrelated to the deaths of Moore and Dean.
At the detention hearing Sept. 26, Judge Walsh also asked Buck’s federal public defender if Los Angeles County authorities had returned $4-million that Buck apparently posted for bail on the original state charges. No answer was provided in court, and a spokesperson for LA Superior Court said it was not clear from court records if Buck had tried to post bail before he was charged in federal court.
Buck’s defense attorneys did not immediately return calls Monday.
The federal criminal trial is set to begin in January, 2021.