Woman pleads guilty to hate crime after falsely accusing black teen of stealing phone
California woman, nicknamed “SoHo Karen” after falsely accuse a black teenager Officials said Monday stole her cell phone in New York City, having pleaded guilty to hate crimes charges.
Manhattan prosecutors said Miya Ponsetto, now 23, admitted to serving an illegal prison sentence “as a hate crime”, but could re-offend and be reduced to aggravated harassment if she avoided any trouble for two years.
Viral video showing Ponsetto rushed in, chased and yelled at 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr., whom she accused, without evidence, of taking her iPhone.
The incident happened on December 26, 2020, in the lobby of Arlo Soho, an upscale boutique hotel, where the teenager and his jazz musician father, Keyon Harrold, were guests.
It was later discovered that Ponsetto, who is white, had left her phone in an Uber and the device was returned to her. The incident has been seen as a symbol of racism.
“Multiple sclerosis. Ponsetto exhibits outrageous behavior. As a black man, I have personally experienced racism countless times in my life, and I sympathize with the young man in distress. in this incident,” Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg said in a statement Monday.
“This plea ensures proper accountability for Ms. Ponsetto by addressing the underlying causes for her behavior and ensuring it does not recur.”
The New York case is based on a previous DUI case in California in which Ponsetto is serving a sentence and is being counseled.
Ponsetto, a receptionist in Southern California, is grateful for the deal, said her attorney Paul D’Emilia.
“We are pleased that today’s procedure has brought this unfortunate misunderstanding closer to a final resolution,” D’Emilia said in a statement. “Miya Ponsetto has led an exemplary life since this incident with the young man almost a year and a half ago.”
Ponsetto hopes the victim “accepts remorse and apologizes for her behavior that night, and all those involved can move forward,” according to D’Emilia.
Prosecutors said that if Ponsetto fails to comply with the terms of her probation, she could face between one-third to four years in New York state prison.
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