Recruit: Sharon Toney-Finch paid for meals, told residents of homeless shelter to pretend to be displaced vets

Toby Francis, who stays in a Poughkeepsie homeless shelter, says he and 14 other men there were each offered $100, a free meal and toiletries to participate in what they later learned was a scam involving asylum seekers in the Town of Newburgh.

Ben Nandy and Bob Doda

May 22, 2023, 9:49 PM

Updated 361 days ago

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Toby Francis, who stays in a Poughkeepsie homeless shelter, says he and 14 other men there were each offered $100, a free meal and toiletries to participate in what they later learned was a scam involving asylum seekers in the Town of Newburgh.
They told News 12 that veterans advocate Sharon Toney-Finch arranged transportation to a Dutchess County diner, where she paid for their meals.
After a bloody mary and a steak, Francis says Finch then brought the men to meet the Chamber of Commerce president and Assemblyman Brian Maher at the disabled veterans center in New Windsor where they were told to pretend to be veterans who were displaced from the nearby Crossroads Hotel.
After meeting them and believing they were displaced vets, Maher and other politicians started sharing the claims on national TV. After three days and after several threats to hotel staff, Maher said Finch told him it was a lie.
Francis told News 12 that he feels exploited.
“Maybe teach her a lesson, give her time in jail. Let her think about the things that she's done," he said.
Maher apologized to the Crossroads Hotel staff and guests. He also asked the district attorney and the attorney general to investigate Finch. Both agencies say they've received those requests.
Maher says he’s been reflecting on what happened.
“I'm trying to figure out exactly what I might have been able to do differently. I'm sure I'll, at some point, realize those things," he said.
Over several phone conversations with News 12’s Ben Nandy, Finch has admitted she was at the diner with these men and that no veterans were ever displaced from the Crossroads. She's denying everything else.
The hotel managers say that since this news has started coming out, they've been receiving fewer threats, but they're still coming, and they even recently received a couple of threatening letters.


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