Fox’s migrants-displaced-vets source was charged with fraud. The network hasn’t mentioned it.

After Fox News promoted a hoax about homeless veterans being “evicted” from New York hotels to house migrants last year, some of the network’s anchors said they would provide viewers more information “as we get it.” That promise was apparently disingenuous: Fox has yet to report that the originator of the bogus story now faces federal fraud charges.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged Sharon Toney-Finch, an Army veteran whose Yerik Israel Toney Foundation claims to “help homeless and low-income military service veterans in need of living assistance,” with multiple counts of fraud. They alleged that she raised funds for the group by falsely claiming to have received a Purple Heart after surviving a terrorist attack and spent the group’s money on personal expenses. They also alleged she received “hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability benefits” by falsifying her military discharge paperwork to match her story.

Toney-Fitch drew notoriety as the source for a May 12, 2023, New York Post report in which she alleged that nearly two dozen homeless veterans her organization had been helping were kicked out hotels in upstate New York to make room for migrants. 

The story became a cause celebre for right-wing commentators seeking to demonize migrants and attack Democratic politicians. But Toney-Smith’s tale collapsed within days, as local news outlets reported that she had fabricated her story and the homeless veterans had never existed.

Fox, which relentlessly portrays migrants as dangerous criminals conducting an “invasion” of the United States, picked up Toney-Fitch’s hoax the day after the Post published its initial story. Fox News and Fox Business gave the story, which Fox claimed to have “confirmed,” more than an hour of credulous coverage over six days. 

“This is pretty infuriating, homeless vets who served our great country, they’re being put out on the street and replaced by illegal immigrants,” prime-time star Sean Hannity alleged in one such segment. 

But as the story unraveled, Fox personalities began backtracking and admitting they had been duped. On May 24, 2023, several Fox anchors read an on-air statement which said in part, “We've since learned that veterans advocates misled local officials, and it now turns out those eviction claims were false. We want to update you on this story, make sure the record was set straight, and we’ll get more to you as we get it.”

Apparently the “veterans advocate” behind the story facing criminal charges after allegedly faking a Purple Heart and defrauding the government of hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits wasn’t worth mentioning.