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Press Release

Newburgh Woman Charged With Defrauding Military Charities And The Veteran’s Administration And With Fraudulently Claiming To Be A Purple Heart Recipient

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James Smith, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging SHARON TONEY‑FINCH with defrauding military charities and the Veteran’s Administration (“VA”) and with fraudulently claiming to have received a Purple Heart.  TONEY-FINCH was arrested today and will be presented in White Plains federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy.  

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Sharon Toney-Finch falsely claimed to have received a military award bestowed on those wounded or killed in the line of duty, and she used this lie to drive donations to her charitable organization, which in fact was a ruse the defendant allegedly used to line her own pockets.  The defendant’s alleged crimes are dishonorable to the highest degree, and I thank the career prosecutors of this Office and our law enforcement partners for bringing today’s charges and exposing Toney-Finch’s attempt to profit on stolen valor.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said: “Sharon Toney-Finch allegedly engaged in a series of lies in which she misappropriated donations for military charities and falsely nominated herself as a Purple Heart recipient to receive illicit disability benefits.  Acts of stolen valor are especially egregious as they distract from sacrifices of those who were truly injured defending our nation.  The FBI does not tolerate those who choose to perpetuate fraudulent schemes at the expense of our armed forces and will continue to aggressively investigate those who choose to do so.”

As alleged in public court filings and the Indictment unsealed today in White Plains federal court:[1] 

Between at least July 2019 through about September 2023, TONEY-FINCH 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, when in fact she spent the funds on personal expenses.  She further falsely claimed that she survived and was injured in a terrorist attack to a vehicle convoy in Iraq in or about March 2010 and that she is a Purple Heart recipient.

Between at least March 2016 through the present, TONEY-FINCH knowingly obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability benefits from the VA by fraudulently representing that, during her military service in Iraq, she sustained combat-related injuries during a mortar attack in or about February 2010 and a vehicle rollover that occurred in or about March 2010.

Between about August 2021 through the present, TONEY-FINCH has falsely claimed that she is a Purple Heart recipient in statements made to donors to her charitable organization, an application to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a vanity license plate, and an application to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor to obtain a medallion and recognition on their website.  TONEY-FINCH has also used, possessed, and exhibited a military discharge certificate that had been altered to reflect falsely that she is a Purple Heart recipient.

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TONEY-FINCH, 43, of Newburgh, New York, is charged with wire fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison; theft of government funds, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison; stolen valor, which carries a maximum potential sentence of one year in prison; and altering military discharge paperwork, which carries a maximum potential sentence of one year in prison.

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the work of the FBI Hudson Valley White Collar Crime Task Force, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. 

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U. S. Attorneys Ryan W. Allison and Margaret N. Vasu are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff, Shelby Wratchford
(212) 637-2600

Updated May 1, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-157