Today, Ed Buck, the Democratic donor sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for his role in the methamphetamine overdose deaths of two Black gay men in his West Hollywood apartment was ordered to pay $47,271.25 in restitution. Prosecutors asked for the payments to be made immediately.
Buck was sentenced in April to 30 years in federal prison after a jury deliberated for more than four hours following a two-week trial in 2021. Ed Buck, was found guilty of nine felony counts in federal court including providing the drugs that killed 26-year-old Gemmel Moore and 55-year-old Timothy Dean, distributing drugs, running a drug den, and enticement to travel for purposes of prostitution.
"I would ask the court to set a restitution schedule of making this amount due immediately," declared Assistant United States Attorney Chelsea Norell. "I do believe that the probation office's report and all the financial documents we have thus far, even if we don't know Mr. Buck's exact funds at this time, do support his ability to pay immediately."
Mark Werksman, Buck's attorney, argued that 60 days was not long enough for his client to pay the restitution because he didn't have access to an account at Vanguard, one of the world's leading investment management companies.
"He's unable to access it," Werksman argued. "Because he has very limited phone use. He doesn't have a username or password right now with the account because it's been dormant for a long time. Mr. Buck has no personal ability to pay anything. Although he does have funds in his name that he owns."
Prosecutors argued that Buck's 94-year-old mother, who had been made an agent on his Vanguard account, could oversee the payment of the restitution.
Werksman argued that his client needed to first pay his mother back $1 million dollars and $300k to the IRS.
Throughout today's hearing, Buck was visibly agitated at his lack of control and authority over today's proceedings. He tried several times to speak over his attorney and grew frustrated causing Werksman to have to stop the hearing and confer with Buck.
According to prosecutors, Buck's mother had been putting $1,000 on his commissary books every six months since he's been in jail.
Werksman asked Judge Snyder to stay any restitution or fines until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could rule on the validity of the conviction.
A stay is an action taken by a court to stop a legal proceeding or the actions of a party.
Snyder said she was disinclined to issue a stay and that restitution should be paid in 90 days.
Werksman replied, "Very well. If I have a problem with that because of Vanguard, I'll happily report to the court in writing my declaration. If there's an issue we'll deal with it."
"Do your best not to have a problem so we can get this part of the proceeding done," Snyder said."
Snyder acknowledged that if Buck's conviction were turned over on appeal he'd lose money restitution payments.
"I recognize that it is unlikely that you'll be able to recoup the money paid to them in the event the conviction is reversed," explained Judge Snyder. "But I think all things being equal. It will be unfair to these people to have them wait when they pay out monies that are substantial to them."
The bulk of Friday's virtual hearing was spent on whether or not Ed Buck had the $3.4 million prosecutors claimed and how much he should pay in a fine to the government. The Probation Department recommended a fine of $1 million dollars while the prosecution requested $400k acknowledging the civil lawsuits Buck is facing from the victims.
Prosecutors alleged that in addition to the alleged $3.4 million dollars in cash and assets, Buck held an account with Janus Henderson Investors worth at least $271,321.44 as of Dec. 31, 2021.
Snyder tried to find a middle ground and opted for a $200k fine payable immediately.
Buck continues to face several civil lawsuits, including two wrongful death lawsuits. He is appealing his conviction.