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Wow Who Could Have Predicted That This NY Post Story About Hotels Kicking Veterans Out for Migrants Was Bogus?

And some definitely true links for your Thursday.

9:49 AM EDT on May 18, 2023

Emojis and question marks over a cover of the New York Post which features the headline, "VETS KICKED OUT FOR MIGRANTS."

(New York Post / Hell Gate)

Almost a week ago, the New York Post published an "exclusive" story with a headline that was manufactured to drive up outrage: "Homeless vets are being booted from NY hotels to make room for migrants." 

The story, which was on the cover of that day's edition, told the tale of 20 veterans who were kicked out of various hotels in upstate New York, including the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, an account that was shared with the Post by Sharon Toney-Finch, the head of the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation. Toney-Finch claimed that her group paid for the veterans to stay at the hotels. "That's so unfair, because at the end of the day, we are a small nonprofit, and we do pay $88 a day for a veteran to be there," she told the Post. She added, "Our veterans have been placed in another hotel due to what's going on with the immigrants."

Outrage, naturally, ensued, with both Republican and Democratic elected officials joining the fray.

But according to a new investigation from Mid-Hudson News, the Post report was bogus. According to the manager of the Crossroads Hotel, who spoke with the outlet, "there were no veterans at the hotel, none were kicked out and no other guests were told to vacate." That manager also told Mid-Hudson News that while Finch (Toney-Finch seems to alternate between the two last names) claims that she "had a standing agreement with the hotel and her credit card was on file to pay for the rooms," she "had never heard of Finch or the YIT Foundation" before last week. 

There's a lot that Toney-Finch said that seems to be an outright lie, according to Mid-Hudson News's reporting (emphasis my own): 

This past weekend Finch told Mid-Hudson News that she was able to relocate the 20 veterans to the Wingate by Wyndham Hotel in Fishkill, with her YIT Foundation paying for the rooms. No such guests were in the Fishkill facility, according to an employee there. He noted that three veterans were being housed there by MHA Dutchess County, but he stressed that YIT had not put any veterans in the hotel for "a long time."

On Monday, Finch's story shifted when being interviewed by Mid-Hudson News at the Orange County Veteran Center. At that point, she claimed that 20 veterans, across three different hotels, were told on Sunday, May 7th, that they needed to check out on the following day. The revised statement indicates that the alleged displacement happened a week earlier than originally claimed. Also, instead of all 20 veterans supposedly being at the Crossroads, the YIT founder said 15 of the veterans were told to vacate the Crossroads, three were displaced from the Super 8 in the Town of Wallkill, and two others were kicked out of the Hampton Inn, also in Wallkill.

Wallkill Town Supervisor George Serrano Wednesday said no veterans were placed in hotels in his town.

Oh, and it sure seems like Toney-Finch mocked up a fake receipt purporting to come from Crossroads Hotel as "proof" that her organization paid $37,800 on May 12 for people to be housed there, a receipt which she then provided as "evidence" to the local Republican Assemblymember Brian Maher? (According to the IRS, her group has annual revenues of less than $50,000.) 

We've reached out to the Post to get some clarity on whether they fact-checked Toney-Finch's claims before publishing their story, and also asked if the outlet still stands by their original story. We will update this story if we hear back. 

And now for some definitely true links:

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