Woman Wrongly Accused A Black Teen Of Stealing Phone, Pleads Guilty To Hate Crime
The woman found her phone in an Uber.
April 17, 2022 at 9:03 pm
Miya Ponsetto, the California woman who wrongly accused a Black teenager of stealing her cellphone in New York City, has pleaded guilty to a hate crime charge, NBC News reports. Ponsetto, nicknamed “SoHo Karen,” was caught on video in 2020 when she tackled and shouted at Keyon Harrold Jr. after accusing him of stealing her iPhone in the lobby of Arlo Soho, an upscale boutique hotel.
Harrold, who was 14 at the time, was staying at the hotel with his father, Keyon Harrold, a jazz musician. Ponsetto, who is white, later found out that she had left her phone in an Uber vehicle.
“Ms. Ponsetto displayed outrageous behavior,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement on Monday. “As a Black man, I have personally experienced racial profiling countless times in my life and I sympathize with the young man victimized in this incident.”
This plea, according to Bragg, “ensures appropriate accountability for Ms. Ponsetto by addressing underlying causes for her behavior and ensuring this conduct does not reoccur.”
Ponsetto, 23, has admitted to unlawful imprisonment “as a hate crime.” However, she can plead again and have the charge reduced to misdemeanor aggravated harassment if she doesn’t cause any other trouble for two years.
Ben Crump, who is representing Harrold, said it’s “highly disappointing” that Ponsetto will receive only probation.
“We won’t change the culture until we hold people accountable for their outrageously bad behavior,” the attorney said in a statement.
Ponsetto’s attorney, Paul D’Emilia, said the 23-year-old has shown remorse for the incident.
“We are pleased that today’s proceeding brought this unfortunate misunderstanding closer to a final resolution,” D’Emilia said in a statement. “Miya Ponsetto has been leading an exemplary life since this incident with the young man close to a year and a half ago.”
According to D’Emilia, Ponsetto hopes the victim “accepts her regrets and apology for her behavior that evening, and that all involved can move forward.”
As Blavity previously reported, Ponsetto spoke with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King in 2021 and defended herself.
“I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever,” she said. “I’m Puerto Rican. I’m, like, a woman of color.”