CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — When Dr. Javaid Perwaiz diagnosed Anita Fuller with cancer, the widow immediately thought of her late husband.
“When he told me I had cancer, it brought me back to my husband who died of cancer,” she said. “I knew I had to be taken care of immediately because I had a medical professional telling me that I had cancer.”
Fuller was seeing the obstetrician-gynecologist for one month when Perwaiz diagnosed her with cancer. He scheduled her for a hysterectomy at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center a week after issuing the diagnosis.
“I was frantic. I was beyond scared,” Fuller said. “I didn’t know what to do other than listen to him, Dr. Perwaiz, and have the complete hysterectomy.”
A few months after her hysterectomy, Fuller got a call from the FBI. She met with two agents who were investigating Perwaiz for insurance fraud. Fuller’s medical files showed that the OB-GYN justified her hysterectomy by listing symptoms she wasn’t experiencing, and the FBI agents told her that pathology reports showed she never had cancer.
“I stood up, and I screamed, and I cried,” Fuller said.
Fuller started seeing Perwaiz in 2019 — just a few months before federal prosecutors charged him with performing unnecessary procedures and surgeries on unsuspecting women to make money from fraudulent insurance claims.
A year after Perwaiz’ arrest, Fuller testified in front of a federal jury. She told the jury that Perwaiz preyed on her fear of cancer to coerce her into having a hysterectomy. The jury convicted Perwaiz of more than 50 crimes, including the one he committed against Fuller.
“This eats at me every single day. Every day this eats at me. Every day, that someone could do this all for the sake of money,” Fuller said.
Money — that’s what prosecutors believe motivated Perwaiz to take advantage of his patients and lie to insurance companies about his work.
“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 insurance companies,” lead prosecutor Elizabeth Yusi said.
Nurses who worked with Perwaiz told 10 On Your Side investigators that obstetrics and gynecology is a high-paid specialty that earns both hospitals and doctors a lot of money. Prosecutors found that Perwaiz netted more than the average doctor in his field. In the last seven years of his practice, he pocketed nearly $7 million from surgeries like the one he performed on Fuller.
Perwaiz wasn’t only making cash from invasive operations. He also padded his wallet by performing diagnostic procedures in his Chesapeake office, including hysteroscopies and colposcopies. Prosecutors said that Perwaiz did not have the correct equipment to perform those diagnostic procedures, but he made about $500,000 combined by performing hysteroscopies and colposcopies during the last decade of his career.
Perwaiz spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy expensive cars. He owned five luxury cars when he was arrested in November 2019, including a $212,000 Bentley. He also spent more than $400,000 at Neiman Marcus, more than $63,000 at QVC, and about $70,000 on high-end sunglasses over the last nine years, according to court records.
“It makes me sick that he is riding around in five beautiful cars, beautiful homes, beautiful gold jewelry around his neck, fancy clothes,” Fuller said. “And I’m living in a senior complex in Portsmouth, Virginia, because he stole money, and he is living high off the hog.”
Prosecutors told the jury that Perwaiz routinely bought flowers, watches, purses, and other expensive gifts for his office staff. He treated his longtime nurse Margo Stone especially well. Stone told the jury that Perwaiz gave her hundreds of thousands of dollars while she worked for him, including about $20,000 in luxury watches and thousands in tuition for her children to attend private school and college.
Stone, who was the only registered nurse who worked in Perwaiz’ office, declined to speak with 10 On Your Side investigators. Stone was offered immunity to testify against Perwaiz. She told the jury that she was in the examination room when Perwaiz performed faulty diagnostic procedures and changed certain medical information in patient files.
“Her children had the top-of-the-line education in the state. They attended private high school and went to private colleges. He paid for that. They led a very good life on the blood of those women that he butchered, and I took offense to that,” juror Ed Compton said.
The hospitals Perwaiz operated at benefitted financially from his surgery schedule, prosecutors said. Chesapeake Regional Medical Center made about $18.5 million from Perwaiz surgeries over the last decade, while Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View made about $3 million during the same time.
Chesapeake Regional Medical Center sent 10 On Your Side investigators a statement reiterating that the hospital was not involved in or implicated in any wrongdoing involving Perwaiz. Their full statement can be read in Chapter 4 of “The Patients v. Perwaiz.”
10 On Your Side investigators began reaching out to Bon Secours in February 2020 for comment on the allegations against Perwaiz. In an initial statement provided at that time, a spokesperson wrote, “Dr. Perwaiz is not employed by Bon Secours or Bon Secours Medical Group. We are cooperating fully with outside authorities and we have no further comment.”
That spokesperson did not reveal a fact that later came out during the jury trial — that Perwaiz was part owner of the hospital.
10 On Your Side investigators reached out to another Bon Secours spokesperson multiple times after Perwaiz was convicted to get comment on allegations made during the jury trial. That spokesperson told our investigators that Bon Secours did not want to participate in “The Patients v. Perwaiz.”
Perwaiz’ 2019 arrest wasn’t the first time he was in hot water with the federal government. He briefly lost his medical license after he pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion in 1996.
“He had two federal tax felonies from my office where he was charged with using his medical practice as a cash cow,” Yusi said, adding that Perwaiz claimed luxury cars he purchased were items for his practice, like an ultrasound machine and malpractice insurance.
His assets were the point of discussion in federal court again after Perwaiz was convicted of the health insurance fraud scheme. In January, prosecutors returned to court to put a hold on the OB-GYN’s assets. They told a federal judge that just three days after the doctor was convicted he sold his 1986 Mercedes Benz Roadster to Stone’s son for $1.
In January, investigators also learned that Perwaiz’ defense attorneys were in the process of, or had already, sold 60 watches, luxury luggage, and home goods. His attorneys were about to sell his $200,000 Bentley when the judge put a hold on all of Perwaiz’ assets.
“I just think it’s absolutely disgusting. Disgusting what a doctor that took an oath to help people and save people, and then steals from insurance companies, and takes money, and tells people they have diseases when they don’t have diseases, and does operations on innocent people that never needed an operation to begin with,” Fuller said.