Owner of Bethel’s Tundra Suites hotel pleads guilty to Medicaid fraud

Tundra Suites hotel owner Chin S. Kim and associate Mi Ae Young pled guilty to Medicaid fraud and agreed to pay restitution of $135,000. (Teresa Cotsirilos/KYUK)

Over two years after former Bethel hotel Tundra Suites’ Medicaid fraud was uncovered, the legal case has come to an end. Tundra Suites owner Chin S. Kim and his associate, Mi Ae Young, each pled guilty to one count of medical assistance fraud. They will pay $135,000 jointly as restitution. 

When Medicaid recipients travel for medically necessary care, Medicaid uses vouchers to pay for the recipients’ food, taxi rides, and lodging. The vendors then redeem those vouchers with Medicaid. Kim and Young pled guilty to defrauding the Alaska Medicaid program from July to December 2017 by billing for Medicaid recipients who were not actually staying at the hotel. 

To find out how Kim and Young were obtaining Medicaid vouchers from people who were not staying at the hotel, the State’s Medicaid program sent investigators to Bethel. Court documents in the case say that they found a common theme among people whose vouchers were being submitted by Tundra Suites, despite the clients never staying at the hotel: they took taxis while in Bethel. 

Young was previously an owner of a Bethel taxi company, according to the charging documents. She had overcharged Medicaid for taxi rides and lost her ability to participate in the program. The charging documents state that she owes Medicaid $248,034 for those taxi ride overcharges.

Young began billing Medicaid on behalf of Tundra Suites in July 2017. Kim said that he didn’t know about the fraudulent billing until November. Young said that when Kim found out he was concerned and wanted to stop, but he did not report or stop her. By December, court documents say, the pair had submitted over $100,000 in fraudulent claims to Medicaid.

By pleading guilty, Kim and Young agreed to pay $135,000 dollars jointly in restitution, which the court has already received. Additionally, Kim will complete 160 hours of community service while serving three years on supervised probation. Young has already served six months of house arrest with an ankle monitor, and Tundra Suites no longer exists.

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