A Hudson Valley charity founder is accused of lying about receiving a Purple Heart, defrauding military charities and much more.

Sharon Toney-Finch, 43, created the YIT charity and claimed to help homeless veterans during the pandemic.

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Rene Mejia, Newburgh Community Organizer.
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She made headlines when she claimed homeless vets were being removed from a Newburgh hotel to make room for migrants.

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This turned out to be a lie, but it sparked an investigation into Toney-Finch.

Newburgh, New York Woman Accused Of Defrauding Military

getty images
getty images


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The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the FBI and more announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Toney-Finch with defrauding military charities and the Veteran’s Administration (“VA”) while fraudulently claiming to have received a Purple Heart.

A Purple Heart is given to those wounded or killed in the line of duty. Officials say she lied about the donation to drive donations to her charitable organization.

"Acts of stolen valor are especially egregious as they distract from sacrifices of those who were truly injured defending our nation," FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said.


She's accused of obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability benefits from the VA by making up she was injured during her military service in Iraq.

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Between at least July 2019 and about September 2023, she engaged in a scheme to defraud donors to her charitable organization by falsely claiming that donation funds would be spent solely to support homeless military veterans, officials say.

Instead, she allegedly spent the funds on personal expenses.

She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the top charges.

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