“SoHo Karen” Charged With Hate Crime

Miya Ponsetto, 22, a Ventura County woman who accused a Black man of stealing her cell phone in a New York City hotel lobby, is now facing hate crime charges.

Ponsetto was arraigned via videoconference in Manhattan and pleaded not guilty to charges including unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.

Ponsetto was at the Arlo Hotel on Dec. 26 when she confronted 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr., whom she accused of stealing her phone. Video shows her grabbing at him as he tried to get away. Her phone was found soon afterward in an Uber car.

Mercury News

Ponsetto was arrested in January for attempted assault, attempted robbery, grand larceny, and acting in a manner injurious to a child. At Wednesday’s hearing, she pleaded not guilty to an indictment alleging two counts of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree (both of which contain a hate crime enhancement), aggravated harassment in the second degree, and endangering the welfare of a child.

Ponsetto’s lawyer had this statement:

“Instead of helping to foster a civil and enlightened resolution to an unfortunate incident between two young people, DA Vance chose a craven and opportunistic path in indicting, with felony hate crime charges, Ms. Miya Ponsetto. The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute. In sum, they are absurd, and a perversion of our legal system. As truly violent criminals maraud and run rampant through New York City, this DA exhibits zero interest in law-enforcement and prosecution. Instead, he turns his prosecutorial fury on a distraught and panicked young woman stranded without her lifeline, her phone, thousands of miles from home. Shameful.”

Law and Crime

Ponsetto lost the counsel of her first attorney following this interview in January with Gayle King, in which she characterized herself as a “super sweet girl.”

She also told King: “I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever. I’m a woman. I’m Puerto Rican. I’m, like, a woman of color. I’m Italian, Greek, Puerto Rican.”