Drug overdose cited in death of former Massachusetts senator

Brian Joyce

Brian Joyce, a former Massachusetts senator who was found dead in his Westport home while awaiting trial on federal corruption charges, died due to “acute pentobarbital intoxication,” according to the Massachusetts Medical Examiner's Office.

The drug is used short-term as a sedative to treat insomnia.

The announcement was made Tuesday, with the medical examiner also listing the manner of his death as undetermined.

"The postmortem toxicology was positive for elevated levels of Pentobarbital and a slightly elevated level of Citralopram," a spokeswoman for Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said. "The autopsy further revealed Hypertensive and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease. At this time, we are reviewing the autopsy report and all other attendant circumstances to determine whether further investigation is warranted."

Quinn previously said Joyce’s body was discovered in his Wesport home September 27. He was 56.

“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has taken custody of the deceased and will conduct an autopsy in the coming days,” Quinn said.

Joyce, who was a Democrat from Milton and first elected in 1998, was arrested in December 2017 and charged with accepting up to $1 million in bribes and kickbacks for helping companies and then laundering the money through his law office, disguising it as legal fees. His district included part of Bristol County.

Joyce pleaded not guilty to the charges and was free on bond, but he left the Senate after not seeking re-election in 2016.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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