NORFOLK, Va. - The trial for a prominent OBGYN in Chesapeake started in Norfolk Federal Court Wednesday.
Dr. Javaid Perwiaz is facing 61 federal charges of performing unnecessary surgeries on women over a nine-year period. He is also accused of falsifying sterilization consent forms and inducing early labor.
His charges include 26 counts of health care fraud, 33 counts of making false statements relating to healthcare matters and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
In opening statements Wednesday, United States attorneys said this is a case about "broken trust, manipulation and greed."
At the center of this case, nearly 32 women prosecutors say were coerced into getting irreversable invasive surgeries like hysterectomies or being induced early so that Dr. Perwaiz could bill insurance companies in a scheme to get more cash payouts.
The prosecution said Dr. Perwaiz would manipulate scare patients with cancer diagnoses to get them to rush to commit to surgery.
Prosecutors went on to say Perwaiz would shred patients' medical records if they checked out OK and then hand write new records with symptoms they never had in order to show insurance companies his patients needed medical procedures.
U.S. attorneys also went on to claim that Perwaiz was so busy and money-hungry he would schedule multiple hysterectomies and induce women early on Saturdays at Chesapeake General Hospital so he could maximize the amount of money he could get from insurance companies.
The first witness called by the prosecution Wednesday was Lisa Strong, Perwaiz's longtime medical assistant. She testified that the office didn’t ask for patient history forms and said she was a witness to Perwaiz changing vitals for patients and forging false patient claims to make them look sick and in dire need when they were perfectly healthy.
Strong went on to say Perwaiz would also bill insurance companies for diagnostic procedures that were never performed or were performed with broken equipment.
The defense countered Wednesday, claiming Perwaiz, with a career of more than 40 years in medicine, was not a crook or a liar but that he was trusted, and that they would prove all the surgeries were necessary.
The defense claims the prosecution is only looking at a tiny slice of the tens of thousands of patients Perwaiz saw over four decades. They also questioned why his longtime employees like Strong noticed wrongdoing but never went to the medical board with concerns.
The trial is expected to last five weeks.