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Story that migrants were displacing homeless veterans was false

May 19, 2023 1:03 pm

Mid-Hudson News reports that that seven men have come forth to say they were paid to act as homeless veterans displaced from upstate hotels by incoming migrants. The men were staying at a homeless shelter in Poughkeepsie, and said they were among 15 men recruited for the scam by the non-profit YIT Foundation. They were told to pretend they were veterans that had been kicked out of the Crossroads Hotel in the Town of Newburgh last week, before the arrival of actual migrants bused there from New York City. Assemblyperson Brian Maher now says he was duped by YIT Foundation's director, Sharon Toney-Finch, who appears to have fabricated the entire story. “When Sharon and several veterans explained to me their situation, I believed them at their word,” Maher said on May 19. “I had absolutely no knowledge of any wrongdoing and believed that their stories were real until a phone conversation with Sharon yesterday afternoon when she explained to me that this did not happen the way she purported it to.” The men said they were paid $200 and given food and alcohol to scam the public into believing that homeless veterans were being kicked out of shelters to make room for migrants. One of the homeless men said about Sharon Toney-Finch, “She told us to act like we were the veterans that had been displaced. And she told us that if asked, we were supposed to say we had been kicked out and Sharon found us rooms in Fishkill.” The man also said that anyone in the group who was unwilling to answer was told to respond with, “I am too traumatized to talk about it." The false story that migrants were displacing homeless veterans was repeated widely, both locally and nationally. Local Rep. Marc Molinaro was one of many politicians that amplified a false story. Molinaro quoted a New York Post story about the false story on May 12, writing, "This is absolutely inexcusable and should not be happening in America. This is the result of incompetence and lack of compassion. This be won’t tolerated." Molinaro, a Republican, then commented after the hoax was made public saying, “The fabrication is so disheartening and wrong. It undermines the work of helping our veterans and makes more difficult our efforts to stop NYC from illegally moving migrants to Upstate New York communities without resources or their approval. This must stop.” Read the full story at Mid-Hudson News.

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