I-Team: Widow Swindled Out Of Money

By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV

MIDDLETON (CBS) — A local car dealer preyed on a recently widowed woman and her two young children by stealing the gleaming Mercedes her late husband left to help support his family.

The I-Team tracked down the man behind this heartless swindle to a jail cell and now police believe the car dealer may have ripped off other people as well.

“It’s about my husband, sticking up for my husband and not letting this guy get away with taking everything (my husband) worked hard for his children.”

Those are the words of Stacey Chicoine, whose husband Joe was diagnosed with brain cancer in June of 2008.

LEFT CAR FOR FAMILY

Joe could not get life insurance after his diagnosis, but he took some solace in the fact that when he was gone, his wife Stacey could sell his top-of-the-line Mercedes to help care for their kids.

Joe died when his twins were just six months old and that’s when Stacey Chicoine turned to car salesman Daniel Wright, president of the Sterling Motor Group in Danvers, for help.

Stacey brought Joe’s Mercedes to Sterling Motors and met with Wright, who agreed to pay her $53,000 when the car was sold.

“When Daniel said he could help, he said ‘I need Joe’s death certificate and the title to the car,'” Stacey said.

Stacey handed over the documents along with the car and trusted Wright to make good on the deal.

Months later, Stacey says Wright told her the car had disappeared from the lot and he didn’t know what happened to it.

DIDN’T DISAPPEAR

But the I-Team found out the Chicoine’s Mercedes didn’t just vanish. Dan Wright sold it.

The I-Team obtained a copy of the title used in the illegal sale and discovered it was forged back in May.

On it is Joe Chicoine’s signature, dated May 15, 2010, which was eight months after he died.

WRIGHT’S LEGAL TROUBLES

The I-Team’s investigation also found that Wright has been accused of questionable car deals before and admitted fault in one case in civil court.

Wright’s waterfront condo in Swampscott is in foreclosure and the lot at what used to be Sterling Motors is empty and the business is closed down.

When the I-Team tried to find Wright to speak with him, the trail led to a jail in Essex County, where he was serving time for non-payment of child support. According to the Department of Revenue, Wright owes almost $40,000 in back payments and interest.

“He’s a sad soul,” Stacey said. “I feel bad for him. He’s got to live with what he’s done.”

TRACKED DOWN THE CAR

Meanwhile, the I-Team tracked down Joe’s Mercedes on the North Shore. A man named Bernard Platt had bought it at Sterling Motors from Wright.

Platt said he had no idea Stacey had been swindled or that the car was stolen. “My immediate reaction was we just felt awful,” Platt said.

Platt paid Wright $61,500 for the Mercedes. He said Wright told him about Stacey’s situation and made him feel that not only was he buying a beautiful car, but he was also helping a family in need.

“He preys on your emotional side,” Platt said. “Obviously it’s a beautiful car but by the other token, it was the right thing for Stacey.”

According to Platt, Wright described himself as “a standup guy and his business is a standup business.”

“To hear this woman had been defrauded out of the car after we had paid for the car, we feel awful about it,” he said.

NOT JUST A CAR

To Stacey, the Mercedes wasn’t just any car.

“This was (Joe’s) hard earned money gone,” she said. “Something he was proud of. It was extra hard to get rid of it because it was a piece of him.”

Wright “stole from two innocent kids who their father provided awesomely for,” Stacey said.

When Stacey told police about what Wright had done, they did nothing. Now both Danvers and State Police are investigating and the I-Team has learned there are even more alleged victims of Wright.

The I-Team requested an interview with Wright but he refused to talk.

Platt says he hasn’t driven the Mercedes since he found out where it came from. What will become of the Mercedes has yet to be resolved.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Lorraine says:

    This is a terrible situation. Two families heart broken by one dispicable man. I hope and pray for a beautiful resolve. And I hope this man Daniel gets a nice long term in prison to think about what he has done, and maybe someday he will see in his own heart what other people are feeling.

  2. TeeKay says:

    Mr Wright just confirmed what most people think of car dealers – a conniving low life. It would be nice if Mr Platt gave the car to Stacey and her children, since he doesn’t drive it anymore, kind of a ‘Christmas gift’, and pursue Mr Wright for return of his $61,500.

  3. Gene says:

    I guess that is more proof to the statement that Used car salesmen are as immorally deprived as they are made out to be

  4. JC says:

    If car dealers in the area each gave a donation to the Chicoine family, they could easily give $ 61K. This would help to right a wrong done by one person to an innocent family.

  5. Mike says:

    This gentleman bought a STOLEN car, by law, shouldn’t he lose it?

  6. Tracey says:

    JC I think that is a wonderful idea.I am sure this would help this family out alot, and give Stacey some peace of mind.This poor woman has a long road ahead of her raising her two young children.

  7. dan says:

    It’s a sad situation. but I bet if the I-Team does a follow up in 6 months, we will find some Judge let him out so he can work and pay restition (sic) yeah right. He will be long gone. Let’s make the judge pay????

  8. Mary Alpers Mello says:

    what a sin i hope Mr Wright rot’s in jail!

  9. Lance says:

    The dead husband is to blame. How do you have the money to have that car, but not pay for life insurance. Tough lesson for the widow, but I’ll bet she’ll tell her future husband to get insurance

  10. kate says:

    Lance – are you joking? you are blaming a dead husband and father for a stranger stealing a car and forging his name. he was diagnosed with cancer in his early forties at the same time he began having children – i know many healthy 40 year old men who do not have life insurance. after a diagnosis such as joey’s you can not get life insurance becuase you have been diagnosed as terminal, not his fault. You should be ashamed of yourself blaming a hard-working family man who is now passed on. i only hope someone shows your family and your honor more respect and sympathy one day when you pass on. where is the anger to the perfect healthy/well-off man who stole from two innocent children and their future, just because he felt like it. get your priorities straight lance.

    1. Lance says:

      I’m just saying, instead of being a show-off in a 60k car..you should care about your family and protect them in advance..it’s a good lesson for young couples

      1. friend says:

        If you knew him Joe was far from showy – he worked very hard and liked nice cars. He worked for himself so did not have basic insurance from a company. Most men do not get their own life insurance until they have children. HIs diagnosis came within days of Stacey finding out they were pregnant with twins, so no life insurance due to pre-exisitng condition. Please know your all your facts before speaking such harsh words in such a emotional situation!

  11. Cristin Allen says:

    This is a sad story. I hope that Stacey gets some type of resolution to this. I also feel that Pratt should not be punished he didn’t know anything. The idea about local car dealerships donating would be a great thing. God bless Stacey and her children. It is hard enough to become a single mother of twins. Now she has to deal with some jerk who took advantage of someone in need. He deserves to work hard while in jail and pay his restitution!!!

  12. kate says:

    well lance i guess you learned a lesson too – think about things before you say them. can you imagine stacey reading this website and seeing that. im sure in hindsight both her and joey wish that they had life linsurance taken out before his diagnosis – however that in no way means what dan did was right.

    1. lance says:

      When my children were young I had protection for them. These days people are too busy keeping up with the Jones’ and not thinking about the future. I hope young couple come away with that from this tale. God Bless the children of today. Just as that young girl sang in the 80’s..”They are our future”. Whatever happened to that wonderful singer..she was very good

      1. Tracy says:

        Lance you I guess are a very lucky man that when your wife was pregnant you were not diagnosis with terminal cancer.I really think you should think before you speak. Bad things happen to people when the least expect it.Joe was a stand up guy who work hard and took care of his family, and bellive me he would of had life ins. If this did not happen. I really think you owe an appology here. to his wife.

      2. Nancy says:

        Her name is Whitney Houston and she is a crack head!

  13. response says:

    why did she leave the car there? She should have never left the vehicle without a check in her hand.

  14. JJDouce says:

    Tichnically isn’t the guy that bought it in possession of stolen property? shouldn’t the car go back to stacey? The poor guy that bought is out 61,500, I hope he didn’t pay in cash

  15. Marianne Lasquade says:

    Lance, are you kidding me! it’s not about “keeping up with the Jonses'” it’s about people living their lives and not expecting a terminal diagnosis in their 40″s. It must be great to be so perfect and proactive, but that does not give you the right to judge others. Please don’t miss the point of this unfortunate story and remember you get back what you put out. God Bless.

  16. Dana Chicoine says:

    Hey Lance your an idiot!!! You know nothing about my brother and who he was so keep your comments to yourself

  17. TRACEY CHICOINE says:

    WELL SAID DANA ,WELL SAID.

  18. kevin says:

    I have a great idea…auction it. Sell tickets to cover your cost, and the remaining goes to the family….I’d buy a ticket!

  19. Maya says:

    Sorry, I agree with Lance – who buys a top of the line Mercedes instead of health insurance??? Something does not smell right here.

    1. Nancy says:

      It was life insurance not health insurance…..

    2. lance says:

      I’m glad you see it my way. It’s exactly what people are thionking, but don’t want to say it out loud. A tough kesson learned, but hopefully young couples will start thinking about the future and not expensive toys

  20. ryan says:

    I know Danny personally over the years and its very sad to see what has become of him.For what he has done to this family he should stay in jail or come up with the money for the family.He has been a shady salesmen for years who promises you the world and does nothing.I know many people who have been taking advantage of by him.SAD!

  21. Abdul says:

    Shame on you Lance. The guy didn’t have life insurance because he had an illness….why don’t you blame the insurance company??? This is disheartening. I feel so bad for this family. I wish Stacy and her kids all the best. Kevin’s auction idea is great, I’ll buy a few tix too.

  22. Tracey CHICOINE says:

    Maya you are just as ignorant as Lance.

    1. Maya says:

      The man bought a ridiculously expensive item that loses value the SECOND it is driven off the lot. He leaves it for his wife to sell after he dies, and this is supposed to be considered sound money management? Yes, it totally sucks that she was taken advantage of, but let’s look at the logic here.
      Why didn’t he just leave the money in the bank? I’m sure he ‘took some solace’ knowing that they could sell the car once he was gone, but if he was really trying to take care of his family he should have gotten rid of the expensive toy while it was at top value.

  23. JO says:

    TO MAYA AND LANCE.THE BOTTOM LINE HERE IS THAT YOU ARE BOTH COMPLETE MORONS THAT ARE JEALOUS OF ANYONES PROSPERITY IN LIFE.THE FACT THAT THE MAN BOUGHT HIMSELF A HIGHLINE VEHICLE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS PASSING.DO TO THE FACT THAT HE WAS ILL PRIOR TO THE BIRTH OF HIS CHILDREN HE COULD NOT QUALIFY FOR LIFE INSURANCE..YOU STATE THAT THE PURCHASE WAS NOT SOUND MONEY MANAGEMENT.WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER IF HE PASSED LEAVING NOTHING BUT DEBT.OBVIUOSLY HE WAS SOUND WITH HIS MONEY BECAUSE HE WAS ABLE TO PURCHASE A CAR LIKE THAT AND STILL TAKE CARE OF HIS FAMILY.THE SITUATION IS UNFORTUNATE BUT THOSE PEOPLE OUT THERE SUCH AS MAYA AND LANCE THAT ARE CLEARLY JUST JUDGEMENTAL PROBABLY BECAUSE THEY COULDNT AFFORD A MERCEDES.ANYWAY SHOULD JUST KEEP THERE MOUTHS SHUT.STACEY I FEEL TERRIBLE FOR YOU AND I THINK THAT THE AUCTION WOULD BE A GREAT IDEA..I ALSO BELIEVE THAT DANNY SHORT SALED THE CAR JUST GET THE QUICK BUCK BECAUSE THAT CAR SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT MORE MONEY THAN 61,500.

  24. Optimist says:

    You guys are all so quick to jump on the band wagon and jump down this guys throat. When has the news ever told the absolute truth. There are always two sides of a story. How do you know that the widow isn’t stretching the truth out of grief…maybe second guessing the amount that she feels the car is worth. Do we know if she has gotten any money for it? Maybe she is in some sort of financial trouble and the money just isn’t flowing in quick enough. Funerals are expensive. I know that we all have our own opinions of car dealers and what their MO is, but how many of you know this guy personally? Yet, you are so quick to judge from a story that may be falsified by the news…just sayin’

    1. Pathetic Human Being says:

      Optimistic .. i do know him personally and nothing is stretched he is a complete loser and always up to no good. he talkes a good game to everyone! i have only known him a few months and every single thing he told me was a lie. he lies so good you actually belive him.. its pathetic and he is a sick sick man that needs help. he should be put away. i feel bad for anyone that trusted him.

  25. Disgusted!! says:

    I know Danny personally and he is a liar and a con man. He did nothing but lie to me from day one. He lost his condo for not paying taxes he doesn’t pay child support and he cons people out of money. No lie is to small for him. Im so lucky I realized he was a sick liar in time to get out, he has no friends left cause he has stole from every single one of them he even blamed them for his shaddy deals. He always drove around in someone else car! And claimed they were his. He would flash his money.. that was never his. He did take advantage of that poor woman. My god he forged her husbands signature.
    He should rot in jail for a long time. I’m sure many others will come forward. He had an excuse for every lie he was confronted with. I have never met a better liar in my whole life. He is pathetic. I regret the day I ever met him.

  26. Bill says:

    Hey mister Optimist do you see it now?

  27. Optimist says:

    So, why did she go to the news instead of the police? Usually that is a tactic when you are trying to black male someone, isn’t it?

    I don’t know this guy personally or the woman involved, but I do know people that are capable of lying just like you are describing. They are definitely out there.

    Sorry Bill, but I still stick with “there are two sides to a story”. I’ll be interested to hear the other side of this one….then I’ll be able to make a more educated conclusion for myself.

    Sounds like you were in a relationship with him “Disgusted”?

  28. Optimist says:

    Was just rereading the article with my husband and he pointed out it says she did go to the police. I guess that answers that question!

    Bottom line is though, if the widow wanted to be paid in full then he should have been able to do so upon the sale of the car.

  29. KIrishrose says:

    Stacey did go to the police, attorney general and better business bureau with absolutely no help at all. It wasn’t until this piece aired did the local authorities decide to investigate, sadly it took a lilttle airtime to make it happen. Joe had bought this car way before he was even diagnosed with his terminal brain cancer. And although you may seem to think that selling it should of been first priority, keeping his wife who was pregnant with twins healthy, fighting the disease, being strong after multiple brain surgeries, coping with chemo therapy and radiation just seemed to become just a little more important than selling his vehicle at the time. Until you walk a day in Stacey’s shoes, please, do not judge.

  30. stacey says:

    Optimist: Please get your facts straight prior to stating I’m in this for financial gaines; I just want justice. If you had listened to or even read the news report above, I went to the police before media 5 months before actually— no actions were taken by the police until the media stepped in.

    Thank you

    1. Optimist says:

      Stacey, I posted a second time correcting myself after the first. I have “pregnancy brain” right now and can’t retain what I used to!

      I haven’t accused either parties of anything. I know neither of you personally so I can’t judge. I was just stating alternate ideas. Not to offend, but being that I don’t know you and there are definitely very cold hearted people out there (like Dan is being described as) it could go either way, ya know?

      This story has been an eye opener…maybe it could turn into a positive thing and you could raise awareness of the importance of life insurance. I know that you and your husband didn’t have time to figure this out, but my husband and I are now talking about it- something we had never even thought about.

      I am truly sorry for your loss and hope the holidays bring you and your family much peace and joy.

    2. Bill Bell says:

      Stacy I am so sorry for your loss I just hope that you have enough money for the two kids of yours.

  31. norma says:

    Dan Wright never told her he sold the car! Read the report again…..

  32. Buster says:

    When i was a young boy instead of counting license plates while riding in the car my father used to have us count A-holes. Thanks to Lance, Maya, and Optimist i’m off to a booming start today. To imply that Joe didn’t want what was best for his family is nonsense, the time frame between leaning of his impending fatherhood and learning that he had terminal brain cancer is counted in days. I’m sure at the time he assumed he had at least a month or two to begin planning the rest of his life with his wife and children.
    Stacey and her children were robbed by a well known swindler, to suggest that she played a part in that sickens me. Whether or not she gets her money or her car remains to be seen, but Mr. Wright can’t hide in jail forever and i suspect justice will be served upon him at some point.

  33. Optimist says:

    I think a more adult response would be to just say “I disagree completely with your opinion”. Is this how we want to raise the next generation? To attack everyone’s character based on an opinion??? Don’t judge me, you don’t know me. I have never made judgement, but merely stated an alternate case. Something Stacey needs to be prepared for as well. Many people have the false impression that they are going to bring a story to the media and everyone is going to agree with them or take their side…

    1. Optimist says:

      And might I add, as unfortunate as this situation is and as heart broken as I will feel for Stacey and her family if this all proves true, I do not draw a conclusion based on one story.

  34. Sam says:

    I think we shouldn’t attack other people cause they have different opinions. Not everyone think a like..its called freedom of speech. I think its not cool to call people morons or idiots just cause they don’t have the same point of view as everyone else.

    I think that this is a lesson to all young couples as well..once you get married to get life insurance. My father was very young when he passed away..he was healthy but he didn’t die cause of an illness..he passed away because of a terrible accident. The point is life is inevitable and it can be taken away just like that. Although my father didn’t have the top of the line car, he did have a life insurance.

  35. Buster says:

    I quote “How do you know the widow isn’t stretching the truth out of grief… maybe second guessing the amount she feels the car is worth.” You did in fact make a judgement and attack someones character first.

    1. Optimist says:

      No I didn’t “How do you know” as not an accusation or an attack- it is a question. I didn’t say “She probably” or “sounds like” or make any other sort of statement declaring what kind of person I think she is. “How do you know there isn’t life on Mars?” Are you and astronaut? Have you been there personally?

      So in my statement “How do you know the widow isn’t stretching the truth out of grief…maybe second guessing the amount she feels the car is worth.” is an invitation for anyone to chime in that knows her personally that can debunk this alternate suggestion, because that’s what it is…a SUGGESTION.

  36. Jenny says:

    Optimist, you are correct – everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Maybe you should look up the definition, though. An opinion IS a judgment made with insufficient evidence to support it. And your “opinion” clearly passed judgment against the victim here. You suggest she is trying to “black male” (it’s spelled blackmail, by the way) the car dealer – that this is why she didn’t go to the police, that she was just unhappy with the amount she got and wanted more, etc. All these things were addressed in the story (she did go to the police, she got no money and was told the car was stolen, not sold, etc.) yet you chose to ignore them… oh, I’m sorry, it was “baby brain”, right!? You were pretty quick to comment for someone who apparently didn’t even read the entire article. Maybe you should focus more of your energy on actually knowing what you’re talking about before you choose to share your “alternate cases” with the rest of us… or don’t get so upset when others “attack your character” and “judge you” as you did to Stacey without pause. (or do you not consider suggesting she’s a blackmailer as an attack on her character!?) When I was young my Dad always said that if you can’t say something nice, it’s better to say nothing at all. I hope you learn something from this and raise your unborn child not to be as judgmental as his/her mother was to this poor woman and her family!

    1. Optimist says:

      This man could have family too. Unfortunately none of them have posted on here. I never said it wasn’t possible that he didn’t do what he did. Maybe I should have added a little more “What if” on Stacey’s behalf, but she has been well spoken for already, so I just focused on a different side of the story.

      While you think that I’m attacking Stacey’s character, it was never my intention. I know of many, many situations that pan out completely different than how they initially appeared. Hopefully for all of you it is exactly the way it appears.

      Your implication that I’m going to be a bad mother is a little over the top. If you father taught you not to say anything if you don’t have something nice to say then maybe that was an instance where you should of held your own tongue.

  37. Candice says:

    What an awful story! I hope the holidays bring better things to the news!

    Optimist, welcome to the world of mommy-hood! You will be fine- it’s good to raise your children to look at the entire picture and all of the possibilities before making a decision. That was a little rude of Jenny. The tone of her whole comment was just to be a jerk and get a rise out of you. People can’t have an intellectual debate, it seems, without name calling, degradation, and/or violence.
    Maybe that’s why his family hasn’t posted anything, it would be like feeding themselves to a pack of wolves.

    Stacey, I hope this all gets sorted for you. Your twins are adorable!

  38. Patrick says:

    Optimist (please read this in full before responding, you may want to grab your husband for assistance): Why did you feel so compelled to comment on this story? In your “opinion” you had two glaring facts wrong and obviously hadn’t read it thoroughly enough to draw a proper conclusion. You missed that she had gone to the police and you missed that Danny sold the car without her knowledge. The biggest problem would be people like you who feel compelled to share their “opinions” and are so grossly ill-informed. You didn’t even grasp the context of the story yet still HAD to comment. Is your life that mundane? It is my “opinion” that you should find a hobby. Oh and I especially appreciate your “excuse” of pregnancy brain; great way to try and earn a little sympathy after already showing your hand as to what type of person you truly are. My prayers for Stacey and her children…

  39. Andrew says:

    Wow, reading through all these comments has been quite amusing – especially those left by “Optimist” Boy is she compelled to write on this board!

    This has been a very informative blog! I have learned that insinuating that someone is a blackmailer is NOT an attack on their character but instead looking at the entire picture and all possibilities BEFORE making a decision, that anyone who posts something in support (or defense) of this woman Stacey must be a friend or member of her family, and that hoping someone raise their child to not be judgmental of others is rude and implies they will be a bad parent. Who knew?

    Despite all that information, I find myself agreeing with the comments made by Patrick and Jenny… and I have a sneaking suspicion that Candice may actually be Optimist in disguise! :) Oh, and Candice, I’m pretty sure that saying Jenny was being a “jerk” is exactly the name calling you were railing against, so I guess you cannot have a clean, intellectual debate yourself.

    And lost in all this are the victims – a widow and her two small children. My prayers go out to them as well!

  40. Cyndie says:

    He is a loser and takes advantage of everyone! I so hope he finally gets what has been coming to him for year. Danny Wright is paying the price…finally!!!!!

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