FILE - In this June 14, 2011 file photo, various prescription drugs on the automated pharmacy assembly line at Medco Health Solutions in Willingboro, N.J. A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense, government numbers show. The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015, according to the program’s number-crunching Office of the Actuary. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

DENVER | The owner of two pharmacies — one each in Aurora and Denver — is facing a pair of felony charges after being accused of bilking Medicaid out of more than $4.4 million through fraudulent billing.

George Sackey, owner of Havana Pharmacy in Aurora and Alameda Pharmacy in Denver, was charged Feb. 16 with one felony count each of theft and computer fraud after allegedly fraudulently billing Medicaid for over $4.4 million, according to a news release from the Colorado Attorney General’s office. The case was investigated by the office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

“Medicaid helps fund vital care for Colorado’s neediest community members,” Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in a statement. “When someone defrauds Medicaid they are stealing from Colorado taxpayers and taking money away from those who truly need the healthcare. My office will prosecute Medicaid fraud to the fullest extent of the law.” 

Sackey allegedly created a specially branded “Havana Pain Cream” — consisting of two primary ingredients, Ketoprofen and Lidocaine — and provided physicians with pre-printed prescription forms to order the cream for their patients.

Between Jan. 7, 2014 and Feb. 6, 2017, the Havana Pharmacy billed Medicaid for more than $2.4 million in Ketoprofen tablets and nearly $2 million in Lidocaine ointment. The attorney general’s office alleges that the amounts made Sackey’s pharmacies major outliers in Medicaid billing, as larger pharmacy chains were billing approximately $20,000 to $50,000 for the same medication during the same time period.

The attorney general also alleges that Sackey billed Medicaid for Lidocaine ointment and Ketoprofen tablets to make the compounds, but actually used the bulk powder form, significantly increasing his profit margin while allegedly defrauding the state.

An arrest warrant was issued for Sackey, who was taken into custody by federal law enforcement officers at Denver International Airport while preparing to board an international flight.

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates Medicaid provider fraud, and also prosecutes abuse of residents in Medicaid-funded nursing homes and state facilities.