Assembly Member Maher apologizes for promoting false claim Newburgh hotel favored migrants over veterans

Maher said a veterans advocate admitted she made the story up and that no veterans were displaced from the hotel.

News 12 Staff

May 19, 2023, 9:34 PM

Updated 365 days ago


Assembly Member Brian Maher apologized Friday for promoting a false claim that veterans were kicked out of a Newburgh hotel in favor of migrants.
Maher returned to the Crossroads Hotel in the Town of Newburgh to make amends.
"I will apologize to anyone who felt they were in danger," Maher said.
Maher recently went on national TV and spoke to several news outlets, including News 12, to promote the false claim.
Maher said veterans advocate Sharon Toney Finch, of the nonprofit YIT, admitted she made the story up and that no veterans were displaced from the hotel.
"I just told her, 'Sharon, why'd you do this? Why'd you make this up?'" Maher said.
Maher said he trusted Finch when she told him about the situation and even introduced him to people she said were the displaced veterans.
The hotel manager said there was no record of Finch's nonprofit booking rooms at the hotel, and that a supposed transaction record Finch provided just was not truthful.
News 12 was also told that since Maher and others first pushed these false claims, staff and guests have constantly been receiving threats.
"I've referred this to the Orange County District Attorney and the Orange County Attorney General's Office because I have no idea what happened, why it happened, and what would motivate so many people to be part of something like this," Maher said.
The DA's office could not comment specifically on this as of Friday evening. They did say, however, just lying on its own without other offenses might not be criminal.
"I've been dealing with them for three weeks now," Finch told News 12. Finch would not give News 12 specific answers about the transaction record nor the veterans she said were involved. However, she did make one admission.
"We picked up veterans who said that they were from the Crossroads. Come to find out they were not from there," Finch said.
Maher said he told hotel staff and guests he is going to learn from this.
"I was so happy to be able to do it, and that they were willing to sit with me," Maher said.
The migrants Maher spoke with at the hotel said they accept his apology. Two of them, however, told News 12 that after the way they were received, they will leave Orange County the first chance they get.
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, state Sen. Rob Rolison and state Sen. Bill Weber also spoke out about the supposed removal of veterans from the hotel.
News 12 reached out to each of them to see if they had responses to these developments, but only Neuhaus responded as of Friday evening. His office said in a statement, "The County Executive was commenting on information provided to him and what was reported and attributed in several media outlets."

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