Former Caspian psychologist enters pleas

MICHAEL VARNEY

IRON MOUNTAIN — A former Caspian psychologist accused of trading opioids, Valium and marijuana for sexual favors from patients has pleaded no contest to 10 charges in Marquette in exchange for ending prosecution in Dickinson and Iron counties.

Michael Wallace Varney, 62, had been set to go on trial Monday in Dickinson County Circuit Court on four counts of criminal sexual conduct-first degree, 11 counts of delivery of a schedule 2 controlled substance and eight counts of delivery of marijuana.

Instead, Varney reached an agreement that saw him plead no contest Thursday in Marquette County Circuit Court to three counts of criminal sexual conduct-second degree, a 15-year felony; three counts of delivery of a controlled substance, less than 50 grams, a 20-year felony; one count of Medicaid fraud-conspiracy, a 10-year felony; and three counts of health care fraud-false claims, a four-year felony.

A no contest plea does not admit guilt but agrees to accept a conviction and sentence. The charges in Dickinson and Iron counties will be dismissed, court officials confirmed. Sentencing is set for June 28. Varney also agreed to pay $427,558 in restitution.

Varney had faced a total of 50 felonies in Dickinson, Iron and Marquette counties, based on a complaint he engaged in sexual misconduct over the past nine years with 10 patients, many of whom sought Varney’s professional help for substance abuse treatment, former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stated in a news release Sept. 21.

Varney obtained his psychologist license in 2009, and owned and worked at Superior Psychological, which has offices in Caspian, Kingsford and Marquette, according to the complaint suspending his license July 6. As a limited license psychologist, he was not legally able to prescribe medication to his patients, Schuette stated.

Varney’s inappropriate behavior with patients included sending sexually suggestive and inappropriate messages, requesting sexually suggestive photos, providing prescription pills in exchange for sexual contact and divulging confidential information about other patients, a news release on the license suspension stated.

Brian Christensen can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 29, or bchristensen@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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