Veteran who lied about hotel migrants charged with stolen valor – WSYR

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Newburgh military veteran, who was accused of lying and saying over 20 veterans were displaced from the Crossroads Motel to make space for migrants in May 2023, has been arrested. Sharon Toney-Finch, 43, faces several charges including stolen valor and theft of government funds.

In 2023, lawmakers at the Capitol referenced an article first reported by the New York Post that claimed 20 veterans had been displaced from the Crossroads Motel in Newburgh to make space for migrants. Following reports refuted the claim, and the motel denied that any veterans had been displaced.

The source of the initial claim came from Tony-Finch, a disabled military veteran. She’s also the Founder of the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation for Preemies. The website claims it provides housing assistance for families of preemie babies as well as homeless and military vets. According to that initial Post article, Tony-FInch stated that veterans were being placed in another hotel due to the migrant situation – a story that’s now being falsified.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, following a two-year investigation, investigators found that Toney-Finch used a scheme to defraud donors through her organization and misappropriated funds from homeless veterans for personal use. Deputies also say Toney-Finch obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability benefits from the VA and altered her DD-214 military discharge to state she was awarded a Purple Heart falsely.

Charges:

  • Wire fraud
  • Theft of government funds
  • Stolen valor
  • Altering military discharge paperwork

“I want to make it clear that crimes of this nature are deeply disrespectful to the brave men and women who have honorably served our country,” said Orange County Sheriff Paul Artea. “Furthermore, exploiting a non-profit organization designed to aid homeless veterans for personal gain is a despicable act that undermines legitimate charitable organizations. Our agency will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who engage in criminal acts such as these are held accountable.”

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