Former Twin River executive charged with receiving kickbacks from vendor

Blackstone Valley

LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — A statewide grand jury handed up an indictment last week charging three people including a former Twin River executive with taking part in a kickback scheme, the office of Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha announced Tuesday.

Michael Barlow is accused of accepting bribes from food court vendor Yehuda Amar in exchange for steering lucrative business contracts his way.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, a spokesperson for Twin River Management Group said Barlow is no longer employed as the casino’s senior vice president of operations.

“Twin River Management Group cooperated fully with the RI State Police and Attorney General during the investigation and will continue to do so,” the spokesperson wrote.

The AG’s office says Barlow recruited Amar in 2007 to open an ice cream shop in Twin River’s food court. About five years later, the two men purchased several properties in New London, Conn., and as a result, Barlow eventually incurred approximately $340,000 in debt to Amar.

Barlow allegedly received debt relief from 2012-2014 as a reward for setting Amar up to profit significantly off the food court contracts.

Police conducted a search of Barlow’s home back in June.

The indictment also alleges that Amar and his business associate Jill Feldman failed to file corporate tax returns and report business income for Shai RI, Inc. from 2016-2018.

Barlow faces four counts of accepting a bribe, three counts of obtaining property under false pretenses, three counts of conspiracy to obtain property under false pretenses, and two counts of casino gaming crimes/providing false information, according to the AG’s office.

Amar is charged with four counts of bribery, three counts of obtaining property under false pretenses, three counts of conspiracy to obtain property under false pretenses, six counts of failure to file corporate tax, four counts of filing a fraudulent personal income tax return, and one count of failing to file a personal income tax return.

Feldman faces three counts of failure to file corporate tax, two counts of filing a fraudulent personal income tax return, and one count of failure to file a personal income tax return.

“The crimes alleged in the indictment not only harm legitimate business owners, but hurt the business climate in our state,” Neronha said in a statement. “Illicit deals and the crimes alleged disadvantage those businesses who play by the rules and create an unfair competitive playing field.”

The three defendants were arraigned on the charges Tuesday. Barlow and Feldman were released on $20,000 personal recognizance while Amar was released on $20,000 surety bond but all three were required to go through the booking process at the state police barracks in Lincoln.

A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Feb. 11.

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