Woman who falsely accused Black teen at NYC hotel pleads not guilty to hate crimes charges

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Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Woman who falsely blamed teen pleads not guilty on hate crimes charges
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Miya Ponsetto was caught on video accusing the teen of stealing her cellphone and then trying to tackle him in the hotel lobby in December.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A California woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hate crime charges that stemmed from a caught-on-tape altercation at the Arlo Hotel in New York City.

Miya Ponsetto, 22, was charged with second degree unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime and other offenses in connection with a false accusation against a Black teen.

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 Dec. 26.

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:

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."

RELATED | Black teen accused of stealing phone in viral incident at NYC hotel says he's shell shocked


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