Questions Swirl Around Vet at Center of Bogus Migrant Story

New York State Senate

The controversy around an Army veteran accused of fabricating a tale of homeless veterans being booted from hotels to make room for migrants deepened on Friday—with state officials launching an investigation and questions raised about her claims of being a Purple Heart recipient.

The woman at the center of the maelstrom is Sharon Toney-Finch, who was inducted last July into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame after a special salute by lawmakers for her service. She is listed in the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, has been the subject of glowing profiles about her heroism under fire, and once appeared on Fox & Friends to unveil a set of Purple Heart commemorative coins. On May 16, New York State Sen. Rob Rolison, a former police officer, honored Toney-Finch as a “woman of distinction,” making special note of her Purple Heart.

As Toney-Finch tells it, she was partway through her second deployment to Iraq in March 2010 when her convoy was ambushed. The attack put her in a coma for six months, Toney-Finch said in an interview earlier this month. She says she woke up that August in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, with a traumatic brain injury. She would later be feted by various groups for that tremendous sacrifice, proudly wearing a Purple Heart medal she said she earned for being wounded in action. Toney-Finch has spoken of enduring 82 surgeries as a result of her wounds.

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