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Fabricated story of displaced veterans sparks outrage and investigation

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  • Staff Report 

Local officials are backtracking and calling for investigations following the revelation that a story about migrants displacing homeless veterans was a hoax.

The narrative, amplified by New York Post and Orange County Republican state Assemblyman Brian Maher, claimed veterans were expelled from a hotel to accommodate newly arrived migrants. The story sparked outrage, legislative action, and even death threats.

The supposed victims were allegedly paid homeless men posing as veterans, a stunt orchestrated by Sharon Toney-Finch, a Poughkeepsie veterans’ activist. Maher, who was misled by the veterans’ advocacy group YIT, later apologized for his part in the ordeal.

The controversy has prompted calls for an investigation from state officials, including Maher, while the Attorney General’s office has confirmed it is reviewing the situation.

A report from Mid Hudson News cited fabricated documents and lack of evidence as key indicators of the deception. Toney-Finch eventually admitted to fabricating the story, according to Maher. Officials including Gov. Kathy Hochul and Reps. Marc Molinaro and Mike Lawler have denounced the ruse, with Lawler expressing hopes that those responsible will face accountability. The case underscores the need for vigilance in verifying such claims in future, Maher noted.