brian joyce photo by boston globe via getty images

Everything really does run on Dunkin'

Tim Nelson
February 07, 2018

It might seem like a worn-out cliche to outsiders, but life in Massachusetts really does run on  Dunkin’.  It’s such an intractable part of daily life in the Commonwealth that one ex-state senator’s landed in hot water for essentially using Dunkin’ Donuts coffee as legal tender. 

Brian Joyce, Massachusetts’ now-former Democratic assistant majority leader was nabbed by the FBI this past Friday on a litany of bribery charges. Most notably, their two-year investigation discovered that Joyce accepted “hundreds of pounds” of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. The caffeinated kickback came after Joyce pressed local officials in his district to hook up a local DD franchise owner with the permits he needed to set up shop. According to The Hill, one particular instance in 2015 saw Joyce pick up five hundred pounds of coffee from the franchise.

The 102 page indictment released by federal prosecutors over the weekend accused Joyce of using his law practice to launder more than $1 million in cash bribes, billing them as “legal fees” to the parties involved. In addition to those payouts, an insurance company hooked him up with a free Jeep, and evidence also suggests he hasn’t paid for dry cleaning in a decade. 

Of course, it’s the coffee beans that make this one of the more unconventional—and frankly head-scratching— case of political palm-greasing in some time. There are so many questions: did Joyce hire a local Dunkin’ Donuts regular to help him transport the beans? Did all of that caffeine make him paranoid as the feds closed in, or is Dunkin’ Donuts coffee so weak that he needed a pound a day just to maintain a good buzz? Is Joyce a pumpkin coffee guy, or more classical? 

Now that Joyce has been formally charged in federal court, hopefully prosecutors will be able to filter out the lies and deception so that some answers will percolate to the top. For now, we’ll just have to let FBI Special Agent in Charge for Boston Hank Shaw speak for us all when it comes to Joyce’s acquisition of Dunkin’ Donuts beans through illicit means: “[He] was greedy, plain and simple.” 

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