Newburgh charity founder faces federal charges, accused of falsely claiming to be a Purple Heart recipient and stealing from the VA

News 12 reached out to Toney-Finch and YIT but haven’t heard back.

Blaise Gomez

May 1, 2024, 9:11 PM

Updated 76 days ago


A Newburgh woman and charity founder who sparked nationwide outrage for allegedly making false claims during the start of the Hudson Valley migrant crisis last year is now facing federal charges for more alleged lies.
Sharon Toney-Finch and her charity, YIT, made national headlines last year when she said homeless veterans’ she was housing at a Newburgh hotel were being removed to make room for migrants - and again when officials and the hotel said it was all a lie.
Toney-Finch is now under scrutiny again following an FBI investigation that resulted in the Iraq veteran being indicted.
Sen. James Skoufis says there’s “no question about it” that her alleged lies about homeless veterans being displaced for migrants are what prompted the probe.
“I’m relieved that it looks like there’s going to be accountability,” Skoufis says.
Toney-Finch is indicted on charges of wire fraud, theft of government funds, stolen valor and altering military discharge paperwork. She’s accused of falsely claiming to be injured during her service overseas and falsifying military records to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Veterans Administration.
Federal prosecutors say she also pretended to be a Purple Heart recipient to get people to donate to her nonprofit and then used the donations on personal expenses.
“She has dishonored the entire community by her behavior,” says Skoufis.
The Hudson Valley is home to the Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
Skoufis is familiar with Toney-Finch and says she was once listed on the state museum’s honor roll list. The lawmaker is introducing bills to strengthen the state application process to be listed as a Purple Heart recipient, which he says is currently an “honor system,” and create a state law for stolen valor.
Assembly Member Brian Maher was one of the officials Toney-Finch allegedly duped.
“After calling for an investigation nearly one year ago I have worked with local and federal investigators to get to the truth," says Maher.
"The fraudulent behavior Sharon exuded is the furthest thing from what myself or the veteran community stand for and the consequences of her actions are regrettably deserved."
News 12 reached out to Toney-Finch and YIT but haven’t heard back.
She will be indicted in federal court in White Plains and prosecutors Toney-Finch faces more than 20 years behind bars, if found guilty.

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