Fake psychologist sentenced to 11 years

Sharonda Avery, 44, of Stafford, Virginia. [Image credit: The Free Lance-Star]

Friday, October 23, 44-year-old Sharonda Avery was sentenced to a total of 46 years in jail after being found guilty of five counts of obtaining money by false pretenses, two counts of passing forged documents, perjury and practicing psychology without a license.


All but 11 years of that sentence was suspended, but even that far exceeds the recommended state sentencing guidelines which called for a maximum of two years and three months.


According to the Free Lance-Star, police began to investigate Avery in October 2018 after receiving a number of complaints about her.  The investigation was headed by former Stafford Detective Ed McCullough.


It was revealed that Avery had been working for Pediatric Partners for Attention and Learning for approximately three years where she had treated more than 100 patients, most of whom were children.


Avery was accused of not only prescribing medication for conditions that didn't exist, but also of failing to accurately diagnose conditions that did exist.  Several of the parents testified during the trial that her mistreatment of their child made problems worse.


Avery's defense attorney, Charlotte Hodges requested Judge Charles Sharp to issue a sentence in accordance with the sentencing guidelines stating that her client was not only truly remorseful, but had also been off of prescribed medication for her own mental health for approximately 15 years before her arrest.


She had no previous criminal record.


“She cannot erase everything she did, but she is trying to make amends,” Hodges said. “Somebody on medication is one person. Somebody off it is somebody else.”


Prosecutor Greg Holt called Avery a "con artist," saying, “Real lives were changed and hurt by her. She not only stole money, she stole trust.”


Sharp gave Avery no mercy after she had turned to some of the victims that were present to ask for forgiveness, "just like I asked God for forgiveness."  He instead called her behavior "unforgivable" saying that she "undercut the whole system."


“Your lies and misrepresentations were truly astounding,” Judge Sharp said before announcing the sentence. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a case in which non-violent acts caused so much damage.”