SALEM, Mass. — An attorney for a Merrimack Valley driving school owner facing methamphetamine trafficking charges made an unsuccessful bid Tuesday to have his client's bail reduced. 

Superior Court Judge Thomas Dreschler denied a request to lower Michael Larocque's $250,000 bail. He remains held at Middleton Jail. 

Larocque, 56, of Lawrence, was charged Sept. 21 with two counts of trafficking methamphetamines over 200 grams after a lengthy investigation involving local, state and federal authorities.

The $250,000 bail was set following his Lawrence District Court arraignment.

During a bail review Tuesday afternoon in Salem Superior Court, Larocque's attorney, Scott Gleason of Haverhill, asked Dreschler to lower the amount to $50,000. 

Gleason said Larocque owns several properties in Lawrence and North Andover, has elderly parents, three children, siblings who live locally, and "no prior record of any kind." 

Larocque is a graduate of Central Catholic High School and Merrimack College with strong ties to the area, he said. 

"He has nowhere to go," Gleason said. "He doesn't' have any capacity or desire to go anywhere else." 

Gleason also said the criminal case presented this far involves questionable evidence and "wild speculation." 

However, Dreschler said a "substantial amount" of methamphetamines were seized in the investigation and that he did not feel $250,000 bail was unreasonable. The judge questioned the street value of the illegal narcotics, which is roughly between $120,000 and $130,000. 

Dreschler noted Larocque faces indictment by the Essex Grand grand jury and will face arraignment in Superior Court afterwards. 

If convicted of the charges, he faces a mandatory minimum of 12 years in state prison, according to court papers.

Investigators seized the methamphetamines after executing search warrants at Larocque’s 69 Colonial Road home and the North Andover Auto School at 203 Turnpike St., unit 404, according to reports.

At the time of his arrest, detectives said they had made “controlled purchases” of methamphetamines from Larocque’s Lawrence home and the school.

While they consider him a major methamphetamine distributor, investigators’ reports do not indicate who he is accused of selling the narcotics to other than the controlled buys which were monitored by police.

In the wake of Larocque’s arrest, the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles recently announced they had suspended the driving school’s license and started the process of getting refunds for students.

Students enrolled in the driving school attend Andover, North Andover and Haverhill facilities.

According to a registry spokesperson, Larocque “violated the terms and conditions of maintaining a professional driving school license and a professional driving school instructor’s license,” it was determined at a hearing held this week.

As a result, the state agency governing the driving schools owned by Larocque — MV Auto School in Haverhill, North Andover Auto School and satellite locations at North Andover High School and Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover — said they must immediately cease operations, according to registry officials.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

 

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