Medical Examiner: Massachusetts State Sen. Brian Joyce OD’d on Insomnia Drug

He was awaiting trial on federal corruption charges at the time of his death

Former Massachusetts State Sen. Brian Joyce died of acute pentobarbital intoxication, an overdose of a drug used to treat insomnia, according to the state medical examiner's office.

The Bristol County District Attorney's Office said in a statement Tuesday night that they have received the autopsy report, adding that Joyce's manner of death is undetermined.

According to the DA's Office, in addition to elevated levels of pentobarbital, the postmortem toxicology for Joyce also showed a slightly elevated level of Citralopram and further revealed hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

The District Attorney's Office says it is reviewing the autopsy report and all other attendant circumstances to determine whether further investigation is warranted.

Joyce, 56, was found dead in his home in September. The Bristol County District Attorney's Office said Joyce's wife found him dead in their home in Westport. No foul play was suspected.

He was awaiting trial on federal corruption charges at the time of his death. He was arrested in December of 2017 and charged with using his office for personal profit by accepting up to $1 million in bribes and kickbacks and hiding the money in a shell company and disguising it as "legal fees." He faced up to 20 years in prison and up to $2 million in fines if convicted.

He was accused of participating in a number of complex schemes dating back to 2010 that netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars, and concealing the payments by using his law office as a "money laundering conduit."

Joyce, who had served as assistant majority leader, said shortly after the investigation was announced that he would not seek re-election. He had represented his district since 1998.

Prosecutors accused Joyce of running his public office as a "criminal enterprise." They said he lied to the state's ethics commission and used the panel as a "cloak of legitimacy for his corrupt schemes."

In one case, prosecutors alleged Joyce used his position to exert influence on behalf of a New York-based energy brokerage business and formed a shell company to collect secret kickbacks from the firm. In another scheme, prosecutors say Joyce pressured a local planning board to approve a waiver sought by a developer, who gave Joyce a Jeep from one of the developer's car dealerships.

The indictment also accused Joyce of taking legislative action to aid a coffee franchise whose owner was paying him tens of thousands of dollars for "purported legal fees" and providing him with hundreds of pounds of free coffee.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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