Democrat awaiting corruption trial found dead; autopsy planned

A former Massachusetts state senator awaiting trial on federal corruption charges was found dead in his home Thursday, authorities said.

The body of former state Sen. Brian A. Joyce, 56, was found by his wife, the Bristol County District Attorney's office said in a statement. The DA’s office said “foul play” was ruled out for the time being.

Joyce was reportedly involved in a car crash Wednesday, but it was unclear if that incident was connected to his death. Massachusetts’ chief medical examiner is slated to conduct an autopsy.

An investigation is “active and ongoing,” the spokesman said.

The Democrat, who served as assistant majority leader, was first elected in 1998. Joyce left the Senate after not seeking re-election in 2016 amid the federal probe. He moved to Westport, Mass., from Milton after his political career ended.

In December 2017, Joyce was named in a 113-count indictment charging him with racketeering, extortion, wire fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors said he allegedly accepted up to $1 million in bribes and kickbacks that he laundered through his company.

The indictment also accused Joyce of using his political influence to help a Dunkin’ Donuts store owner in exchange for hundreds of pounds of fresh coffee, the Boston Globe reported.

"He had a duty to serve them honestly. And he violated that duty by accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for his official action."

— U.S. Attorney William Weinreb

“Brian Joyce represented over 100,000 Massachusetts citizens in the state Legislature,” said then-acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb during a news conference after the indictment was first announced. “He had a duty to serve them honestly. And he violated that duty by accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for his official action.”

Joyce pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and was free on $250,000 bond. No trial date had been set. Joyce's attorney, Howard Cooper, had maintained that his client was innocent of all the charges against him.

No further details were made available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.