Pediatric Partners for Attention and Learning in Stafford County, Aetna and other medical providers face lawsuits over treatment provided by Sharona L. Avery, who was allowed to treat patients for years while posing as a psychologist, despite having no license, degree or training.
According to one complaint filed last month by Vernon Green, Jr. in Stafford Circuit Court, the military veteran indicates he received fraudulent treatments from the “psychologist” for post-traumatic stress disorder, indicating that Avery was allowed to provide therapy without other healthcare professionals or the major health insurance company verifying her credentials.
Sharona L. Avery was arrested on May 6, after reportedly posing as a licensed psychologist for years and working at the now-closed Pediatric Partners for Attention and Learning in Stafford County, Virginia, starting in 2012. Although Avery claimed to be a licensed psychologist with two doctorates and a master’s degree, investigators have discovered that she was not only unlicensed to practice psychology in Virginia, but had never even finished college.
Law enforcement began investigating Avery following a number of reports from parents in October 2018, who questioned her credentials, accusing her of misdiagnosing their children.
Police say she treated hundreds of patients under false pretenses, and many were prescribed potentially harmful medications or impacted by inappropriate diagnoses Avery made.
Green indicates he went to Johnson for treatment for his PTSD in 2016, after he was referred to the Virginia psychologist by Dr. Joni Johnson, who is also named as a defendant. In June 2017, Green hired Avery as executive director of G3 Community Services, a cybersecurity and information technology firm, which is also a named plaintiff in the case.
According to the psychology fraud lawsuit, Johnson and Mary Ann Byrne, who is also named as a defendant, were connected to Pediatric Partners for Attention and Learning in Stafford, and failed to do due diligence and investigate whether Avery actually had the proper credentials and training. Not only did she work as a therapist at the pediatric practice, but medications were approved by Byrne and Aetna based on diagnosis she provided to patients.
Green fired Avery from G3 Community Services in March 2018, after allegedly discovering she had embezzled more than $13,000 by making unauthorized purchases of jewelry, paying bills and withdrawals in cash. These have led to other charges against Avery. She faces 13 criminal charges in all.
The criminal trial is slated to begin in December.