NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Two of the U.S. government’s key witnesses took the stand Friday in the Dr. Javaid Perwaiz federal trial.
Margo Stone worked alongside Pewaiz, an OB-GYN in Chesapeake, for nearly 30 years. She was a nurse, bookkeeper and office administrator.
She told the jury she commonly assisted Perwaiz with seeing patients. She said she was right next to him when he allegedly committed the crimes he is accused of.
Stone began working for Perwaiz in 1990. She said the two became romantically involved and she helped run the office as if it were hers.
Stone testified for prosecutors under immunity from future prosecution from tax and medical crimes. Her former boss is on trial for alleged health care fraud and is facing 61 charges.
Stone told the jury that she saw Perwaiz alter patient records at least once a month. Federal prosecutors said Perwaiz used those altered records for reasons to do unnecessary surgeries on his patients.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bulter asked Stone to tell the jury about a situation in the summer of 2016. Stone said on July 1, she noticed the office’s hysteroscope — a thin tool with a light on the end used to look inside a woman’s vagina — was broken. She immediately ordered a new one from Ebay. The new instrument wouldn’t arrive for another eight days.
Stone told Butler there were times where she saw Perwaiz using the broken hysteroscope on patients.
Prosecutors believe Perwaiz used his findings from procedures to do more surgeries in an effort to collect insurance money.
Like many of the office staff, Stone said she received expensive gifts like sunglasses, jewelry, purses, watches and trips from Perwaiz.
Stone went on to tell the jury Perwaiz was a grandfather-like figure to her two sons. He helped pay for their high school and college educations. Stone said she received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Perwaiz.
Stone also said Perwaiz would backdate sterilization forms. Medicare requires a 30-day waiting period for sterilizations. Stone told the jury patients would routinely only sign the form and then Perwaiz would go and date it. Many patients would be in the operating room just days after meeting with Perwaiz.
“I was aware he did,” Stone told the court.
The same story was told by Diane Coleman. Coleman started as a receptionist for Perwaiz in 2005 and worked her way up.
She told the jury her orders were to tell patients not to date sterilization forms. If the procedures were done in less than 30 days, Medicare wouldn’t reimburse the OB-GYN.
In September 2019, the FBI showed up at Coleman’s home. It was there she decided she would cooperate with the investigation. Coleman said she provided investigators patient records that prove Perwaiz was altering information.
Coleman said in one case a patient was scheduled to have surgery to remove fibroids even though the ultrasound didn’t show any issues.
“It was the right thing to do in my opinion,” Coleman said. “I had no idea what kind of extra surgeries he was doing. I didn’t know the extent.”
Coleman told the jury she also received expensive gifts from her boss. She says she and staff also used Perwaiz’s credit cards to buy gifts for him.
“I’ll never retire,” Coleman recounted Perwaiz saying when she asked him about retiring. “I like the money too much.”
The Perwaiz trial is expected to last five weeks.
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