Homeless veterans booted for migrants story turns out to be hoax: ‘The group behind the claim made it up’

Fox News host Laura Ingraham was forced to issue a correction Friday after a story previously covered turned out to be untrue.

The story was also covered by the American Wire, which reported on May 13th that two dozen or more homeless veterans had been booted from a couple of hotels in New York to make room for migrants.

As previously reported, the New York Post broke the story after being tipped off by the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, a group that “help[s] homeless and low-income military service veterans in need of living assistance.”

“Our veterans have been placed in another hotel due to what’s going on with the immigrants,” the foundation’s CEO, disabled military veteran Sharon Toney-Finch, told the Post.

“One of the vets called me on Sunday. He told me he had to leave because the hotel said the extended stay is not available. Then I got another call. We didn’t waste any time. That’s when we started on Monday to organize when and where to move them all,” she added.

But it turns out Toney-Finch is a liar, as Ingraham herself discovered this week.

“Alright, before we go, a little update on a story we brought you this week about homeless vets being displaced from hotels so that illegals could move in. Turns out the group behind the claim made it up. We have no clue as to why anyone would do such a thing, but we’ll bring you any updates should they come,” the Fox News host said Friday on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle.”

So what exactly happened?

Mid Hudson News, a local outlet, decided to investigate the claims from Toney-Finch and the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, and what they found wasn’t good.

First, the management team of one of the hotels told the outlet that they have no relationship whatsoever with the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation and that veterans were never booted.

“The manager said there were no veterans at the hotel, none were kicked out and no other guests were told to vacate. The hotel does have a group of asylum seekers there, but the seven-year general manager noted that the hotel is not even booked to capacity and rooms are available,” according to Mid Hudson News.

That was strike one.

Second, State Assemblyman Brian Maher, a Republican former supporter of the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, shared with the outlet a credit card receipt given to him by Toney-Finch that she said proved her organization had booked rooms for homeless veterans.

But there were problems.

“[A] graphics expert examined the receipt and said it appears to have been altered with smudges behind the darker type and different fonts on the receipt,” according to Mid Hudson News.

Also, when the outlet contacted the hotel about the receipt, the manager said, “I checked the dollar on the net on the credit card ending in 5728 and the screen shows no transactions. The hotel has no record of this transaction.”

That was strike two.

(Source: Mid Hudson News)

Third, Maher decided to ask Toney-Finch for additional proof, but she blatantly refused to provide it.

“Maher asked Toney-Finch to meet him at the bank to gather financial statements. She didn’t show,” according to the Times Union, another outlet.

“Maher said that as he realized Toney-Finch had made up the story, he called her and pressed her on why she would do that. He said she just kept repeating that she was trying to help the veterans and appeared to unravel emotionally,” the Times  Union reported.

That was strike three.

Fourth, Mid Hudson News spoke directly with some of the homeless veterans who were allegedly booted from a hotel, and what they had to say was astounding.

“Seven homeless men have come forward to say they were part of a group of men recruited at a Poughkeepsie homeless shelter to act as veterans that had been displaced from a Newburgh hotel in order for a non-profit organization to perpetrate a fraud on the public,” according to the outlet.

“The men told Mid-Hudson News on Thursday night that they were part of a group of 15 men that were supposed to pretend they were veterans that had been kicked out of the Crossroads Hotel in the Town of Newburgh last Friday, in advance of the arrival of migrants brought up from New York City,” the outlet reported.

That was strike four.

Maher is not pleased by how he was used by the nonprofit to launder their fraud.

“This is something I believe hurt a lot of people,” he told the Times Union, adding that he himself was feeling “devastated and disheartened.”

The GOP lawmaker is now calling for the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation to be investigated by both the state attorney general’s office and the Orange County district attorney.

Predictably, Maher himself is now facing backlash — entirely from the left — for having originally helped the group. But in a statement to Mid-Hudson News, he made it clear that he was duped just like everybody else.

“When Sharon and several veterans explained to me their situation, I believed them at their word. I had absolutely no knowledge of any wrongdoing and believed that their stories were real,” he said.


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Vivek Saxena


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