SoCal woman who falsely accused Black teen at NYC hotel pleads not guilty to hate crime charges

NEW YORK -- A Southern California woman who was seen on video falsely accusing a Black teen of stealing her phone at a New York hotel has pleaded not guilty to hate-crime charges.

Miya Ponsetto, 22, of Piru, was charged with second degree unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime and other offenses in connection with the Dec. 26, 2020 incident at the Arlo Hotel.

Ponsetto was caught on video accusing Keyon Harrold Jr. - the teenaged son of jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold - of stealing her cellphone and then trying to tackle him in the hotel lobby.

The encounter with Harrold Jr. and his father at the Arlo Hotel in SoHo went viral. It turns out Ponsetto had left her phone in an Uber.

Watch the video that was posted on social media below:
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Keyon Harrold, a jazz musician, says a woman falsely accused his son, who is Black, of stealing her iPhone in a New York City hotel.

After her virtual arraignment Ponsetto was due back in court in October.

Ponsetto's attorney, Paul D'Emilia released the following statement:

"Today marked another low point in out-going Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's checkered administration. 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."

Harrold's family is also suing Ponsetto and the Arlo Hotel.

RELATED: Family of Black teen falsely accused of stealing phone now suing NY hotel, California woman
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Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is filing a racial profiling lawsuit against a New York hotel and Miya Ponsetto.

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