Former senator Joyce died from overdose

Medical examiner report cites ‘acute pentobarbital intoxication’

FORMER STATE SENATOR Brian Joyce, who was found dead in his Westport home in late September, died from a barbiturate overdose, according to the state medical examiner’s office.

Joyce died from “acute pentobarbital intoxication,” according information provided Tuesday afternoon by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Pentobarbital is a powerful sedative that can be prescribed for insomnia or used an as anesthetic.

Joyce, a former longtime lawmaker from Milton, was facing federal trial on corruption charges at the time of his death on September 27. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges in a sweeping indictment in December 2017. The 113-count indictment accused him of taking bribes and kickbacks through his private law practice.

He left office in January 2017 after not seeking reelection to the Senate where he had served since 1997. He and his family subsequently moved to Westport.

While ruling that the cause of death was a drug overdose, the medical examiner said the manner of Joyce’s death “is undetermined,” indicating that there was no finding as to whether he died as a result of suicide, accidental overdose, or homicide. A message left with the Bristol district attorney’s office was not immediately returned. The office would handle any potential investigation of the death.

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Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

The day before he died Joyce had been involved in single-car automobile accident near his home. It was unclear whether there was any connection between the accident and his death.

In early October, the US attorney’s office dismissed all charges against Joyce, citing his death.