NORTH ANDOVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Parents paid a North Andover business to teach their kids how to drive. But after a shocking drug bust, the driving school was shut down. Now the Mass Attorney General’s office is trying to get those parents their money back. Hank Investigates.
When Salima paid for driver’s ed classes, she expected her two sons would learn to drive.
She didn’t expect the driving school owner would be arrested for drug trafficking, and the school would be shut down.
“It just gets me very angry to know that this is a man that is teaching my son how to drive,” Salima said.
This is what police say they seized from inside Michael Larocque’s North Andover driving school and his home in Lawrence last fall, nearly three pounds of meth, pills, drug paraphernalia, and $12,000 in cash.
“I was very shocked. I mean, over the Zoom call, he seemed like a very, very nice guy,” Yasser said.
Yasser and his brother, Elias, took driving lessons at North Andover Auto School, LLC.
Their mom paid $750 for each of them.
After the drug bust, the RMV revoked the school’s license. Classes immediately stopped.
Yasser and Elias didn’t finish their lessons, and their mom didn’t get a refund.
“I did ask for my money back. I did send an email, and I said I need my money back so I can sign my kids up for another driving school. And I did not get a response,” Salima said.
The Massachusetts attorney general says the school’s closing put the brakes on more than 1500 student drivers.
And 7 Investigates can report exclusively that the AG just filed this lawsuit demanding those students get their money refunded.
“If they couldn’t get their license because this place closed and they didn’t get what they paid for it, they’re entitled to their money back,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said.
The driving school did have $50,000 in a special state-required account to give refunds.
But the AG’s office estimates families actually lost twenty times that much – more than one million dollars.
The lawsuit asks the court to freeze Larocque’s assets as well as his company’s assets to make sure there’s enough money to pay students back.
“We think that the way this company handled things was wrong, was illegal, was deceptive and unfair,” Healey said.
The driving school had locations in North Andover and Haverhill. The Haverhill school was known as MV Auto School.
The company was also contracted to teach driver’s ed at North Andover High School and Greater Lawrence Technical School.
“Do you think everyone who was wronged by this knows about it?” Hank asked.
“Many people may have just assumed, ‘Oh, well, I paid this money. It closed down. I guess I’m out of luck.
Too bad. That’s terrible. What they don’t know and what I want them to know is we’re here to help you,” Healey said.
While the AG battles for refunds, Yasser is happy to have his license now but upset he had to pay so much to get it.
“I was very frustrated and angry,” Yasser said.
“It’s very upsetting all that I had to pay money for something I didn’t get,” Salima said.
We reached out to Larocque and his attorney after the lawsuit was filed but have not gotten a response.
And we’ve learned the RMV has sent letters and refund claim forms to the students they know were affected.
If you sent in a claim form to the RMV for a tuition refund, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office will know about your case. If you did not receive an RMV claim form or did not submit one, contact the AG’s office right away call 617-727-8400
Or submit a complaint using this link.
The RMV will handle processing the $50,000 bond. If students receive any money from the bond that is separate from the full refunds the attorney general’s lawsuit is seeking.
If you have a story idea or tip, please email Tell7@whdh.com
(Copyright (c) 2021 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)