News April 12, 2022 at 11:00 am

California woman who falsely accused Black teen of stealing her phone pleads guilty to hate crime charge

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey April 12, 2022 at 11:00 am

April 12, 2022 at 11:00 am | News

Miya Ponsetto, 23, has pleaded guilty to a hate crime charge -- Photo: Ventura County Sheriff's Office

The California woman who made headlines in 2020 after she falsely accused a Black teenager of stealing her cell phone during a filmed confrontation at a hotel in New York has pleaded guilty to a felony hate crime charge.

Grammy award-winning jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold was with his son at the Arlo Hotel in New York when 23-year-old Miya Ponsetto confronted the teen and accused him of stealing her iPhone. The accused woman, who was nicknamed “SoHo Karen” in the aftermath of the incident, was also seen attempting to block the teen at a certain point. Ponsetto’s alleged stolen phone was later returned by an Uber driver, Face2Face Africa reported at the time.

On Monday, Ponsetto was sentenced to probation in connection with the incident after she reached a plea deal with authorities. The accused woman pleaded guilty to second-degree unlawful Imprisonment as a hate crime and second-degree aggravated harassment, FOX 29 reported. The first charge is a felony while the second is a misdemeanor. Ponsetto won’t spend any time in jail as a result of the plea deal.

Ponsetto is currently on probation for a different case in California. If she’s able to complete the 2-year probation without any issues, she can plead down to a misdemeanor, ABC7 reported. She, however, faces a 4-year prison sentence if she flouts the conditions of her probation.

“Ms. Ponsetto displayed outrageous behavior. 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 ensures appropriate accountability for Ms. Ponsetto by addressing underlying causes for her behavior and ensuring this conduct does not reoccur,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. said.

Bragg added that Ponsetto can also replead her second misdemeanor charge if she doesn’t flout the stipulated terms of the probation.

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