A nonprofit leader who said veterans had been displaced from a hotel to make way for migrants has been accused of lying about the matter, Mid-Hudson News reported.
"I am devastated and disheartened upon a conversation with Sharon Toney-Finch at approximately 3:15 p.m. Thursday, May 18, where I learned that the information regarding the YIT Foundation about homeless veterans being displaced is false," New York Assemblyman Brian Maher (R) said in a statement acquired by CNN.
"Their gross misrepresentation of the facts surrounding our homeless veterans is appalling."
Maher has since axed his affiliation with YIT Foundation, for which he had acted as a volunteer spokesperson.
Yerik Israel Toney Foundation founder and chairman Sharon Toney-Finch's story reportedly fell apart when Mid-Hudson News began delving into the stories of the veterans she said had been displaced from Crossroads Hotel in the Town of Newburgh, New York.
Mid-Hudson News reports its investigation revealed an elaborate scheme, involving Toney-Finch recruiting men from a local homeless shelter to pose as displaced veterans.
The recruits were promised $200, food, and alcohol in exchange for taking a trip to meet with an elected official to discuss homelessness, the outlet explained. After a meal, the men were reportedly taken to Orange County Veteran Center in New Windsor, where Orange County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Heather Bell-Mayer asked them some questions.
Toney-Finch's YIT Foundation and many of its corporate sponsors are members of the Orange County Chamber, the outlet also reported.
Bell-Meyer, who sits on YIT Foundation's advisory board, told the outlet Monday that Assemblyman Maher had asked her to visit the OCVC to get information on how he, Maher, could help veterans.
Friday, Toney-Finch, the YIT Foundation leader, confessed that she had concocted the scheme to bribe homeless people to pose as veterans. Toney-Finch says she did so when Bell-Meyer demanded to meet the men in person whom Toney-Finch earlier claimed had been displaced from the hotel.
To add insult to injury, though the homeless people Toney-Finch allegedly recruited to lie about being displaced veterans did receive a meal at the Daily Planet Diner in LaGrange, they were never paid the $200 they say they were promised.
For her part, Toney-Finch denied offering a monetary bribe to the men.
"I bought them lunch and that was it," she told Mid-Hudson News.
"I never promised to pay anybody," she told CNN.
TheBlaze's story referencing Toney-Finch's original statements has been updated to reflect Mid-Hudson News' new reporting.
Watch a video below posted to the YIT Foundation's Twitter feed about an event held in 2021.
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