CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — In the decades before his name and mugshot were splashed across local and national headlines, Dr. Javaid Perwaiz was well known as a trustworthy obstetrician-gynecologist.
Perwaiz ran a solo practice in Chesapeake for nearly 40 years. The 70-year-old OB-GYN treated thousands of women every year.
Some of those women said seeing Perwaiz was a family affair. Generations of mothers, sisters, and daughters trusted him to care for their unborn babies, do their routine checkups, and perform surgeries on them to treat urgent medical diagnoses, like cancer.
Families like Shannon Cohen’s. Her mother was Perwaiz’ patient more than 30 years ago, and he delivered both of Cohen’s sisters.
“He would always ask how my grandmother is doing, who is 92 years old. So, he remembered her from 30 years ago. He asks about my father’s health condition. He asks about my mother’s retirement. He is just an incredibly warm and loving man,” Cohen said.
Perwaiz was also Cohen’s gynecologist for more than 20 years. She had an appointment with him just a few weeks before he was arrested.
“I literally had just been there just a few weeks prior and had a whole conversation,” Cohen said. “It was mind blowing.”
Perwaiz performed several procedures and surgeries on Cohen while she was his patient. Cohen never questioned his diagnoses or treatment methods. She believed he knew what was best for her health.
“I didn’t ever question his judgment,” she said. “I just trusted him with my body, and I wasn’t pleased with anybody else I’d ever gone to.”
From the outside, patients like Cohen viewed Perwaiz as a kind and gentle doctor who worked hard to run a busy and thriving OB-GYN practice on his own, even into his old age.
“I always asked him, ‘Dr. Perwaiz, you’re not going to leave me any time soon? You’re not going to retire?’ And he said, ‘I will never retire.’ He said, ‘I love what I do, and you don’t have anything to worry about, Shannon,’” Cohen said.
But, behind Perwaiz’ warm exterior was a cunning businessman who made millions off of fake medical diagnoses, unnecessary surgeries, and falsified insurance claims.
The successful OB-GYN practice Perwaiz built for himself began to crumble around him in October 2019 when federal investigators raided his office, seizing more than 3,000 patient records. He was arrested shortly after that and accused of performing unnecessary procedures and surgeries on unsuspecting women as part of a health insurance fraud scheme. A federal jury convicted Perwaiz of the scheme a year later. He could be sentenced to up to 465 years in prison on March 31.
10 On Your Side investigators Jason Marks, Kevin Romm, and Adrienne Mayfield began looking into Perwaiz in December 2019. They were inundated with calls, emails, and tips from patients who were concerned about the care they received from Perwaiz.
Cohen is one of nearly two dozen people 10 On Your Side investigators interviewed on camera in the year between Perwaiz’ arrest and his conviction. At the time of the interview with Cohen, she hadn’t sought out a second opinion to determine if the procedures Perwaiz performed on her were necessary. She told 10 On Your Side investigators that she was afraid of knowing the answer.
“It would make me feel better if I was an exception. That I needed surgeries, and they were performed based on him wanting the best care for me,” Cohen said. “I’m hesitant right now because I’m so upset, and I’m so infuriated by this whole process and this whole unfolding. I don’t want to know that I was just another claim.”
10 On Your Side’s investigation was extensive. Our investigators spent months researching Perwaiz, interviewing patients and healthcare experts, and examining medical files and court exhibits. Marks and Romm spent weeks in federal court and attended every day of Perwaiz’ jury trial. Our investigators also interviewed a juror and the lead prosecutor for the case after Perwaiz was convicted.
10 On Your Side’s investigation focused largely on the unheard voices of Perwaiz’ career — more than a dozen women, like Cohen, who weren’t named in the criminal case against the doctor, but whose experiences mirrored the scheme he was convicted of. We spoke to patients from every phase of Perwaiz’ career, from those he saw as a new doctor in the early 1980s, to those whose appointments were canceled due to his arrest.
Our investigators also spoke with several patients and nurses who voiced concerns about Perwaiz in the decades before he was arrested. They said their complaints were not taken seriously.
“The Patients v. Perwaiz” is a 10 On Your Side web exclusive docuseries that will take you through the findings of our investigation. The docuseries will include 10 episodes that will be published every Thursday until April 8.
In Chapter 2 of “The Patients v. Perwaiz,” our investigators will share everything they learned about Perwaiz as a person and physician, including what his life was like before he immigrated to the United States. That episode will launch on Feb. 11. Stay tuned.