Attorney General Maura Healey is seeking more than $1 million in refunds from a driving school that operated in Haverhill and North Andover and conducted driver’s education programs at North Andover High and Greater Lawrence Technical Schools.
Healey filed a lawsuit against MV Auto and North Andover Auto Schools that closed after owner Michael J. Larocque, 56, of Lawrence, was arrested last September for trafficking methamphetamine. The abrupt closing left more than 1,500 students without refunds for services. The attorney general’s office is also seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent any assets from being sold that could be used for restitution.
“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,” said Healey. “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.”
The attorney general filed the lawsuit Thursday in Essex Superior Court against Larocque for violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act. The complaint alleges that the defendants accepted prepayment for services from consumers, but after their licenses were revoked, the defendants couldn’t deliver those services and didn’t provide any refunds.
Healey’s office received several consumer complaints and was also contacted by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Acting Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie said her department’s top priority is public safety and “our team acted swiftly last October in the interests of students and families to revoke the associated professional driving school and instructor’s license, collect and verify student records, facilitate student outreach and transfers to another driver’s education program and initiate a process for accepting financial restitution claims.”
Larocque also served as a classroom instructor, primarily instructing teenaged students,, including those from Haverhill, Methuen, North Andover, Andover, Lawrence, Merrimac, Amesbury, Salisbury, Newburyport, West Newbury, Georgetown, Groveland, and Boxford.
Affected students are asked to file a complaint with the attorney general’s office or call the consumer hotline at -617-727-8400.