Former Mass. state senator found dead in his home

Sen. Brian Joyce

Former Massachusetts State Sen. Brian Joyce is surrounded by reporters as he leaves the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Worcester, Mass., Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Joyce was charged Friday with accepting up to $1 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for helping companies and then laundering the money through his law office, disguising it as […]

WESTPORT, Mass. (AP) — Former Massachusetts state Sen. Brian Joyce, who was awaiting trial on federal corruption charges, was found dead in his home Thursday, authorities said.

Joyce, 56, was found dead by his wife, according to a statement from Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the Bristol District Attorney’s office.

“Foul play is not suspected in the death at this time,” Miliote said.

The state’s chief medical examiner planned to conduct an autopsy and the investigation remained “active and ongoing,” the spokesman said.

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

“I’ve just learned of the sudden death of former Senator Brian Joyce. As authorities handle the appropriate investigations, my thoughts are with his family.” Senate President Karen E. Spilka said in a statement.

“We extend our condolences to Mr. Joyce’s family and friends as they grieve his passing; we will not have any further comment during this difficult time,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said.

In December 2017, Joyce was named in a 113-count indictment charging him with racketeering, extortion, wire fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors said he accepted up to $1 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for helping companies and then laundering the money through his law office, disguising it as legal fees.

Then-acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb said at the time that Joyce violated his duty to his constituents “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. A trial date had not been set.

Joyce’s attorney, Howard Cooper, had maintained that his client was innocent of all the charges against him.

In an email Thursday, Cooper wrote that he had no comment but that Joyce’s family was asking that their privacy be respected during a difficult time.

WCVB-TV reported that Joyce had been involved in a car crash on Wednesday, but it was unclear if that incident was connected in any way to his death.

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