CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A federal raid at Dr. Javaid Perwaiz’ office didn’t slow down the doctor’s surgery schedule.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Perwaiz’ Churchland Boulevard office on Oct. 29, 2019. Agents seized several items, including diagnostic equipment, the OB-GYN’s appointment book, and more than 3,000 patient records.
“Once [the FBI] took all the files, they thought things would slow down with Dr. Perwaiz in terms of the amount of surgeries he was doing. That was not the case,” said federal prosecutor Beth Yusi.
The raid happened just one day after U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agents interviewed Perwaiz. They told the OB-GYN that they were investigating a complaint lodged against him regarding some of his billings and services. Perwaiz spoke with the agents for about 20 minutes before abruptly cutting off the interview.
“Do you have any official letter from somebody authorizing all of this? I don’t know how it works,” Perwaiz asked DHHS investigators before telling them he would not continue the conversation without an attorney present.
“If there was any complaint, I would absolutely want that addressed,” Perwaiz continued. “I will fully cooperate, but I don’t think I should be answering these questions anymore. I answered already too many, probably too many without somebody else who can interject.”
It was clear that Perwaiz was the subject of an intense federal investigation. Still, the day after the FBI searched his office, he was back open for business, diagnosing patients and scheduling them for surgeries, Yusi said.
“Even a search warrant at his office and his knowledge that the FBI and DCIS [the Defense Criminal Investigative Service] and others were investigating him did not slow him down,” Yusi said.
About a year before the raid, the FBI got an anonymous tip that led to their investigation and ultimately to Perwaiz’ arrest. The tip came from a nurse at Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View, a Suffolk hospital where Perwaiz was part owner and performed surgeries every other Friday. The nurse told the FBI they were suspicious of Perwaiz. They believed he was performing unnecessary gynecological surgeries on his patients.
“It’s an employee at the hospital. The whistleblower, so to speak, started it,” Perwaiz said during a phone call from the Western Tidewater Regional Jail. It’s unclear who Perwaiz was speaking to during the call. 10 On Your Side obtained a recording of the call during our investigation.
“But the key witnesses are going to be the office people,” Perwaiz continued. “It’s just some of the things they mentioned in the criminal complaint. As if, who else would know?”
Listen to the jail call here:
Perwaiz was right about those key witnesses. The FBI’s investigation was slow going at first as agents tried to covertly gather information about Perwaiz and his practice without tipping off the doctor and his staff. Eventually, though, federal agents began talking with members of Perwaiz’ staff. Those staffers supplied the FBI with information and medical records that helped investigators obtain their search warrant — and eventually the indictment against Perwaiz.
“Obviously as soon as [the FBI] started getting their hands on those medical records, they realized very quickly that something was not right,” Yusi continued.
Perwaiz only hired women and most of his employees were not medically trained outside of their jobs at his OB-GYN practice. His staff knew the types of procedures and surgeries Perwaiz was doing, but didn’t understand the issues associated with them because of their lack of medical training, Yusi said.
The only registered nurse who worked with Perwaiz was a woman named Margo Stone. She worked in the office for many years and was in the examination room where the OB-GYN did diagnostic procedures that often led to invasive surgeries, Yusi said.
“She does have medical training. She is a nurse, so she knows the correct way to do that. She knew that Dr. Perwaiz was not,” Yusi said.
Federal prosecutors offered Stone immunity from future prosecution in exchange for her testimony against Perwaiz at his criminal trial. She testified to knowing that Perwaiz changed vital statistics and patient complaints on medical records and that he used a broken hysteroscope to diagnose patients with conditions that often led to surgery, Yusi said.
Despite the mounting evidence against Perwaiz, it became clear to that the surgeon wasn’t going to stop operating on his own. Yusi’s office asked the Virginia Board of Medicine to intervene and temporarily suspend Perwaiz’ medical license while the investigation was underway.
“It was our understanding that it was not possible. It would take a month to do that, which we did not feel comfortable having the doctor continue to perform surgeries for a month,” Yusi said.
That’s when federal prosecutors decided to take matters into their own hands. They arrested Perwaiz within a week of the FBI’s search of his office.
“We arrested him in order to make him stop performing surgeries,” Yusi said.
Federal prosecutors cobbled together an indictment against Perwaiz, which named a handful of people they believed were victims of his health insurance fraud scheme. The FBI continued their investigation into Perwaiz after he was arrested, setting up a tip line that received hundreds of calls, talking with former patients, and scouring medical records.
Investigators pieced together a complicated health insurance fraud scheme in which Perwaiz used broken equipment, falsified medical records, and scare tactics, like the word “cancer,” to justify performing unnecessary procedures, surgeries, and early inductions on women. Prosecutors believed that Perwaiz’ goal was to defraud insurance companies and make millions.
“It all comes together, the lies to the insurance companies and to the patients, to show that he was just using whatever means necessary to get as much money as possible from the insurance companies,” Yusi said.
Prosecutors issued two more indictments against Perwaiz as he waited for his trial in the Western Tidewater Regional Jail. Each indictment charged him with new crimes and named new victims. Perwaiz pleaded not guilty to the 61 crimes federal prosecutors accused him of, and a jury trial was scheduled for October 2020.
The jury trial lasted nearly five weeks. Dozens of former patients, nurses, health insurance representatives, and medical experts testified against Perwaiz, detailing the many ways the OB-GYN broke the law to profit off of the scheme.
“The victims’ testimonies, those were always impactful,” said Ed Compton, who sat on the jury during Perwaiz’ trial. “And the repetition because there were a lot of the same things being said, and the same things being done, and the pattern was really put down for us to see what was going on.”
Perwaiz also took the stand during the trial. Compton said that the OB-GYN’s testimony surprised the jury, but Yusi said that prosecutors always knew he would testify in defense of himself.
During his testimony, Perwaiz admitted to several of the crimes he was accused of, including backdating sterilization forms, changing estimated due dates for unborn babies, and failing to meet the medical standard of care when performing diagnostic procedures like hysteroscopies and colposcopies, Yusi said.
“I think he dug his own grave, to be honest,” Compton said.
The jury convicted Perwaiz of 52 of the 61 crimes against him in early November. He will face 465 years in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for March 31 in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia.
A nurse’s anonymous tip sparked the investigation that would put an end to Perwaiz’ career as an OB-GYN and surgeon, but years before the FBI’s investigation, the federal indictment, and the jury trial other women and health professionals spotted red flags in the doctor’s careers and reported them. 10 On Your Side will tell you about some of those red flags in Chapter 4 of “The Patients v. Perwaiz.” That chapter will air on Feb. 25. Stay tuned.
The U.S. Attorney’s office is accepting victim impact statements for consideration at Perwaiz’ sentencing from anyone who believes they were hurt by the OB-GYN’s criminal actions. To learn more about how to submit a victim impact statement, click here.