The attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit Thursday against the owner of a North Andover driving school that closed after the owner was arrested last year for trafficking methamphetamines, allegedly leaving 1,500 students without lessons or the more than $1 million they had prepaid, officials said.
North Andover Auto School closed in October, when the Registry of Motor Vehicles revoked its licenses after owner Michael Larocque was arrested the previous month, the office of Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.
State Police said in September that Larocque, 56, of Lawrence, was running a “large-scale methamphetamine” operation and that more than two pounds of methamphetamine were seized at Larocque’s home, the Globe reported.
Healey’s office filed a lawsuit in Essex Superior Court against both Larocque and the school, which was also known as MV Auto School, for violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act, according to the statement. The suit seeks more than $1 million in restitution for former students.
Prosecutors are also seeking a preliminary injunction to preserve Larocque’s assets to be used to repay students, the statement said. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for Thursday.
Larocque is also set to appear for arraignment in his criminal case in Essex Superior Court on April 7, the AG’s office said.
He was indicted last month by an Essex grand jury on charges of possession of a class D substance, trafficking 36-100 grams of methamphetamine, possession of a class A controlled substance, and two counts of trafficking in 200 or more grams methamphetamine, officials said.
Healey’s office alleges that Larocque and the driving school accepted prepayment for services, but after they lost their licenses from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, they neither provided lessons nor refunded students, according to the statement.
“The closure of this business left hundreds of student drivers stranded with no way to complete their courses or obtain refunds for services they already paid for,” Healey said in the statement. “We’ve moved quickly to preserve the defendants’ assets so they can be used for consumer restitution and are seeking more than $1 million in full refunds for impacted consumers.”
North Andover Auto School operated licensed locations in North Andover and Haverhill, as well as drivers’ education programs for students at North Andover High School and Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover, the AG’s office said.
Larocque taught lessons at the school, which mostly served teenage students on the North Shore, in addition to owning and operating it, according to the statement.
Some students who were left without refunds when the school shut down had paid $550 to $750 for the full drivers’ education course but hadn’t finished it, the AG’s office said. Some had not begun lessons at all.
The school’s failure to refund its customers meant many lacked the means to go to another driving school, and all the students were delayed in completing their drivers’ education and obtaining their licenses, according to the statement.
Prosecutors also allege that the school had misrepresented its ability to provide lessons when it reopened after the pandemic-related closures of last spring.
Acting Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie said in the statement that the agency had moved quickly to revoke Larocque and his school’s licenses and had worked with students to help them transfer into other programs. The RMV reached out to the attorney general’s office for help in securing financial restitution for students, she said.
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