TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A bus driver for the Troy City School District was charged in federal court Tuesday accused of attempting to entice a 14-year-old boy to engage in sex.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York said Michael Varian, 52, exchanged sexually-explicit texts with someone he believed to be a 14-year-old boy for weeks, in an attempt to entice them into sex. He then arranged to meet them at a location in Albany County. According to officials, that person was actually an undercover law enforcement officer.
The Troy City School District says district officials were notified of the investigation on Tuesday and confirmed Varian was a bus driver with Star and Strand Transportation, one of several companies contracted by the district for student transportation. Varian transported students with disabilities.
The district said Varian will no longer be transporting students and said it has not been made aware of any involvement with Troy students. The district also emphasized the security procedures in place to protect students, including fingerprinting and background checks for all bus drivers and the inclusion of bus monitors whenever transporting students.
“We are obviously disturbed by these allegations. The safety and security of our students, both in school and on school-provided transportation, remains our top priority. We will continue to work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on this ongoing investigation.” – Troy CSD Superintendent John Carmello
Varian faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison, a term of post-release supervision of at least 5 years and up to life, and a fine of up to $250,000.
The Albany FBI field office took the unusual step Wednesday of releasing Varian’s mug shot, encouraging anyone with information to get in touch with authorities.
“While I cannot elaborate on details, the investigation has *not identified any students as potential victims at this time. Anyone who has information is asked to call our dedicated tip line at 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324)” – Sarah Ruane Public Affairs Specialist FBI Albany Field Office”