Second man found dead of overdose with Democratic donor Ed Buck was no drug abuser, friends say

Close friends of Timothy Dean, the second man found dead of an overdose in the home of high-powered Democratic Party donor Ed Buck, say they’re still shocked and full of questions over the death of a man they knew as a sober, spiritual soul who didn’t abuse drugs, and wanted to stay “as far away as possible” from the California political operative.

“We are all in total shock. Tim did not have drugs at his house. He was not known to take drugs,” said Alex Herrera, who said he had kept in close touch with Dean for three decades, since they both lived in their native Florida.

Herrera said the two spent Christmas Eve together, at a party hosted by Dean with close friends. “We had a great time. Tim loves to host, he bought presents for everyone. Then, the next day, we all went to my mom’s for Christmas,” Herrera continued. “Tim was in a great place. He was charming.”

Another longtime friend, Walter Harris, said he was with Dean in the daytime hours of Jan. 6, before he went to Buck’s home, and saw no signs of distress, or drunkenness. Buck’s lawyer, Seymour Amster, has claimed Dean arrived at Buck’s home that night inebriated.

“Tim was very eccentric, insightful, and really growing spiritual,” Harris said. “He was very comfortable with life, in really great spirits the day he died. And there is no way he was addicted to drugs.”

Harris said Dean was talking that day about how he had to be at work 9 am the next morning for his job at Saks Fifth Avenue. “He loved his job and was always very punctual. The idea of him willingly taking anything that could mess him up for that makes no sense.”

Harris described Dean an “acquaintance” of Buck’s, but said the two men weren’t friends, and did not socially mix in the same circles. He said Dean and several of his friends had met Buck about 15 years ago, at a local Gold’s Gym.

In fact, Harris said Dean had spoken of his shock and disgust for even knowing Buck after the death of Gemmel Moore, who was found dead in Buck’s apartment in 2017.

“Timothy talked about how awful the Gemmel death was, and how he wanted to stay as far away as possible Ed,” Harris told Fox News. Dean made no mention of Buck in the weeks leading up to their last night together, according to Herrera, who insisted Dean only mentioned Buck after Moore’s death.

“He told me that he happened to know this guy Ed and he was shocked about Gemmel, he seemed to have disdain for him,” Herrera said. “I have pretty much met all of Tim’s friends in the years we have known each other. Ed was not one of them.”

Another friend, DeMarco Majors, who said he met Dean in 2001 through a gay basketball league and remained friends with him ever since, noted Dean had the occasional drink but was otherwise known as sober. Majors also said he’s perplexed why Dean would have gone to Buck’s home late on a Sunday night.

“That just wasn’t his character, he doesn’t go out late on Sunday when he knows he has to work,” he told Fox News. “Ed Buck wasn’t his friend.”

Majors described Dean as a kind friend, who always went out of his way to help and support others. “We have all been through hard times and struggles, Tim was like an uncle to all of us,” Majors recalled.

According to close friend of Dean, who requested anonymity, Buck had been texting Dean in the months prior to their last meeting, asking him to go to his house. But Dean frequently did not respond and let the messages go unanswered, the friend said.

The residence of Ed Buck in West Hollywood, Calif.

The residence of Ed Buck in West Hollywood, Calif. (Fox News/Hollie McKay)

In fact, Dean was disturbed about not just Moore’s death, but the fact that Buck was not criminally charged in the case. Dean is said to have specifically told a friend in the fall that he had no intention of visiting Buck, and that “he didn’t want to end up dead.” He also warned at least one good friend in the black LGBTQ community not to go to Buck’s home, according to the friend.

“Buck kept a low profile” after the Gemmel Moore death, Harris said, adding that he wasn’t much seen at the gym, or most anywhere else.

On the day before Dean’s sudden death, Harris said the two had one of their regular phone chats, where they talked about everything from music to his recent Baptism.

Buck, 64, remains a free man while authorities both investigate both Dean’s death and take a closer look at the Moore case. He has temporarily moved out of his home in West Hollywood and is staying at an undisclosed location, according to Amster, who cited the “undue disruption” the case was causing with neighbors.

The late Timothy Dean who died at the residence of Democratic donor Ed Buck earlier this year

The late Timothy Dean who died at the residence of Democratic donor Ed Buck earlier this year

Buck’s Laurel Avenue residence is just half a block from Santa Monica Boulevard, a social hub for the city’s LGBTQ community – and a place where he was publicly known as a high-profile political figure. Several protests have sprung up outside the otherwise sleepy apartment complex since Dean’s death.

“He doesn’t care. If authorities don’t act, there will be a third body,” Jasmyne Cannick, a Los Angeles-based African-American political commentator and activist, told Fox News. “Someone else is going to die.”

Despite a failed 2007 run for West Hollywood City Council, Buck was an outspoken activist for gay rights and animal rights in the area. He was also known for dishing out political dollars to a wide range of California and national Democratic candidates and has posed alongside everyone from Hillary Clinton and former California Gov. Jerry Brown.

But less public was Buck’s more sinister side, according to Cannick and others who believe warning signs could have saved the lives of Moore and Dean.

“This has been going on a very long time,” Cannick said, referring to Buck’s run-ins with the law more than 20 years ago, when he lived in Arizona. She also said that since Moore’s death, “around a dozen men” have come forward with allegations – several documented on a website she maintains – against Buck, who she depicts as “predatory.”

Buck seemed to target mostly vulnerable black men he met online or locally, including an area of Santa Monica Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles where many homeless live, according to those who believe he had a direct role in the deaths of Moore and Dean. The other common theme involved drugs that Buck may have supplied or injected into the men who visited him, according to those who have spoken out since Moore’s death.

Amster has said repeatedly that Buck did not supply Moore or Dean, who the attorney both described as Buck’s friends, with drugs.

Moore, 26, a black male escort, was found dead in July 2017 in Buck’s apartment of what was ruled a methamphetamine overdose. After a months-long investigation, prosecutors declined to file charges.

Yet the coroner’s report noted the apartment was littered with drug paraphernalia, including 24 syringes, containing white powdery residue, and another with a crystal-like substance. That led to more questions about why officials did not charge Buck with at least drug-related charges.

The Homicide Bureau of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is investigating the Dean death and has asked anyone with information on the case to come forward. According to a spokesperson for the LASD, investigators have also opened a “secondary review” of Moore’s case, and have assured that it was and will continue to be thorough.

Cannick, meanwhile, has amassed stacks of information she said supports the theory that Buck is a “serial predator” who fulfills a “fetish which includes shooting drugs into young Black men that he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites just to see how they react to it while he makes them dress up and pose in white underwear.”

Cannick said another man who had been with Buck came forward after Moore’s death with his own chilling story. The alleged companion, whose name was not made public, claimed Buck used an array of online platforms, including Craigslist and since-shuttered Backpage site, to solicit black men, demanding they wear only white, in visits to his home.

The man said the time at Buck’s home was initially spent posing nude for photographs and did not involve drugs. At other times, Buck allegedly plied his guest with alcohol, liquid Gamma Hydroxybutyrate – more commonly referred to as a “date rape” drug. Buck also allegedly offered money for the men to inject other drugs, according to alleged victim testimonies told to Cannick in the days after Moore’s death.

Cannick said the man who spoke out – and worked in the security industry – claimed to have “been drugged” by Buck after being offered a water-like substance. Heart pounding and in fear of being overdosed, he said the encounter ended when he was able to escape Buck’s home to seek help.

Cannick last July went on to caution in a blog post that Buck was still “soliciting young Black gay men with the allure of money for allowing him to shoot them with crystal meth.” She said her warnings fell on deaf ears.

Despite all the discussion of what Buck may have done, legal experts say it is unclear precisely what charges he might now face.

“It all depends on the facts as they unfold for the sheriff investigators … if Dean arrived already intoxicated and then died at the apartment, then there’s no crime,” explained Troy Slaten, a Beverly Hills-based criminal defense attorney. “If Buck supplied illegal drugs, then the analysis changes. It’s not a crime to invite people over to your apartment for sex if everyone is consenting adults. It appears that both deaths involved accidental overdoses, so that’s what investigators will be focusing on.”

As the questions and accusations pile up, the recipients of Buck’s many donations over the years – including Clinton and Barak Obama – are under increasing pressure to give away those contributions to LGBTQ and civil rights groups. According to Open Secrets, Buck has given around $46,000 to Democratic candidates and the party over the past three years.

Once a Republican, Buck ran for Arizona governor in a heated 1986 race. He ultimately lost, but during the campaign, it was revealed he had been arrested for “public sexual indecency” in 1983 – a charge he claimed to have been inflated by police. In a separate incident, he was also indicted for “attempting to obtain a narcotic through fraud or deceit,” by using a falsified prescription for the painkiller Percocet.

“It’s pretty well-known what Ed Buck does,” an activist and friend of Dean told Fox News, who added that private attorneys have been asked to investigate Buck, with the possibility he could be sued for wrongful death.

David Cunningham, a community activist and 2020 candidate for California State Assembly, echoed the sentiment the Buck case represents a clear abuse of power, with racist undertones.

“Had tables been turned and it had been the other way around, Timothy (Dean) and Gemmel (Moore) would have been immediately transported to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, booked, fingerprinted, and had their mugshots posted all over the media,” Cunningham said. “The same should have been done to Ed Buck when there were narcotics, 24 syringes and a dead body found inside his home.”

Cunningham said that because Buck has donated “to many elected Democratic officials in California and Los Angeles; it is as if he has purchased an immunity pass from being prosecuted. Buck has preyed on the most vulnerable of the community, and today we as a community are saying enough is enough.”

“We are as a community are standing united, demanding justice for both of the African American men murdered by Ed Buck,” he added. “We are demanding that Ed Buck is arrested, prosecuted and convicted, bringing justice to both Gemmel and Timothy and their families and friends.”

Amster told Fox News it was “irresponsible” to make a racial connection in the case, and suggested attacks against Buck were politically motivated. “If they were serious, they would turn their attention elsewhere.”

Amster also affirmed that no arrests have been made in the case, and said the accounts put forward against Buck by other alleged victims were of questionable credibility.

Amster added he does not “get involved in the personal life” of his client, and thus would not confirm or deny reports of how Buck found men in online platforms.

Meanwhile, tributes continue to come pouring in for Dean.

“Tim was truly an amazing person and loved by many. The devastating news of his death has been shocking and alarming, raising great concern within the LGBTQ community,” reads a GoFundMe page, started by four friends, to raise money for his Los Angeles memorial. “A man of tremendous faith, Tim was a steadfast member of The Potter House Church but you could catch him wearing his ‘Sunday’s best’ any day of the week. Tim Dean was compassionate. He knew how to make his friends feel like they mattered.”

Memorial held for Dean in Los Angels, Calif. on Saturday Jan 19

Memorial held for Dean in Los Angels, Calif. on Saturday Jan 19

A native of Florida, Dean was a member of the National Gay Basketball Association. Dean has also been linked to the adult film industry, where he worked in years past. But those close to him claim his character has largely been misrepresented by the media.

“Timothy was an athlete, a fierce competitor, and loving person that truly cared about his friends and family,” his good friend and President of the National Gay Basketball Association, Mark Chambers, told Fox News. “He worked hard over the years to get himself to a positive emotional, and physical place that helped him be at peace with where he was in life and what he accomplished over the last couple of years.”

In his most recent string of public Facebook posts last year, Dean celebrated picking up his Christmas tree, offered a “heartfelt salute to all Veterans who stand every day on the frontlines for freedoms,” celebrated sunsets, and a summer visit to Paris.

“Looking for love and living life in Los Angeles,” Dean wrote. “Life’s like a video game – you have to finish one level before you can move on to the next one.”