Wise Co. man sentenced to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography

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WISE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) – An Appalachia, Virginia man was sentenced after pleading guilty to 60 counts of possessing child pornography.

According to a release from the office of Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp, Michael Lewis Varner, 33, was sentenced Tuesday to fifteen years in a penitentiary with ten years suspended.

Varner will spend five years of the sentence in prison. He will be required to complete ten years of probation after being released. Five of those ten probationary years will be supervised.

The release says Varner will not be allowed to have contact with minors and must register as a sex offender upon his release.

Varner pleaded guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors on February 4, 2020.

According to the release, Varner’s charges stem from an investigation in October 2018. The investigation began after “an officer certified in the investigation of Internet crimes against children received a report of a recent download of child pornography in the Appalachia area of Wise County.”

A search warrant was obtained and conducted, uncovering electronic devices and files containing “over sixty separate images depicting small children engaged in sexual acts with adults.”

The release states that Varner confessed to authorities that he had downloaded and viewed the images.

The case was investigated by the Virginia State Police with the help of the Russell County Sheriff’s Department and Wise County Sheriff’s Department. The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dan Fast.

Varner will remain in the custody of the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail until he can be transferred to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

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