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Former Michigan psychologist sentenced for exchanging opioids for sexual favors

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Posted at 11:10 AM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 13:16:57-04

(WXYZ) — A former Upper Peninsula psychologist was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison on three felony counts of Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.

Michael Varney, 62, of Caspian is also required to pay $427,558 in restitution for Medicaid and health care fraud.

Varney was a limited license psychologist practicing in Marquette, Caspian and Kingsford through his business, Superior Psychological. His license was suspended in July 2018 for the same facts and circumstances as the criminal charges he faced.

The Attorney General's Office began its investigation into Varney after receiving a complaint in September 2017 from the Drug Enforcement Agency that alleged Varney was exchanging opioids for sexual favors from his patients.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the investigation revealed that Varney took advantage of vulnerable patients, including parents trying to regain custody by seeking drug-addiction treatment after having their children removed from their homes.

Varney's sentencing comes after his guilty plea to the following charges:

  • Three felony counts of Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct;
  • Three felony counts of Delivery of a Controlled Substance – Less Than 50 Grams;
  • One felony count of Medicaid Fraud – Conspiracy; and
  • Three counts of Health Care Fraud – False Claims.

“Michigan residents look to medical professionals for important and often life-saving health care services. It’s the last place they should worry about being taken advantage of,” Nessel said in a release. “Mr. Varney exploited vulnerable patients – patients who were looking to get back on their feet after falling victim to the opioids crisis and instead found themselves becoming victims of sexual abuse.