BY NICOLE WINFIELD
ROME -- An autopsy on James Gandolfini has confirmed that "The Sopranos" star died of a heart attack, with no evidence of substance abuse or foul play, a family spokesman said Friday.
Michael Kobold, a longtime family friend, told reporters that Gandolfini's body has been released to a funeral director and that the family was working with the Italian government to speed up the bureaucratic red tape to get the body back to the United States soon.
While the process can take up to 10 days, Kobold said the family was hoping to have the body repatriated by midweek with a funeral planned in New York by June 29 at the latest.
Gandolfini, 51, died Wednesday night. His body was discovered in a Rome hotel room by a family member.
He had arrived in Rome Tuesday and spent his first full day in the Eternal City with his teenage son. They dined together in the hotel Wednesday night, awaiting the arrival in Rome of Gandolfini's sister, Leta.
"He had a wonderful day," Kobold said of the father-son vacation.
Asked if Gandolfini had a history of heart problems, Kobold said he was healthy.
"There's nothing out of the ordinary. It was a heart attack. It was a natural cause," he said. "There was no foul play, no substance abuse. None of that."
Morgue officials at Rome's Policlinico Umberto I hospital said the U.S. Embassy had told them not to speak to the media, and that a family representative would provide the results of the autopsy. Kobold said he had been asked by the family to act as its spokesman.
While he provided no written evidence of the autopsy results, Dr. Claudio Modini, the director of the emergency room at the hospital, said Thursday that Gandolfini had suffered a cardiac arrest, which can be due to a heart attack, a heart rhythm problem or as a result of trauma.
Leta went to the morgue Friday to formally identify the body.
Gandolfini was to take part in the closing ceremony Saturday of the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. The festival is instead organizing a tribute to him.