Family calls for boycott over NYC hotel's handling of false phone theft accusation

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The family of a teenager falsely accused of stealing a cell phone at a SoHo hotel is speaking out after the woman involved was charged, calling for the business to face consequences as well.

The December 26 incident at the Arlo SoHo Hotel gained national attention after the video went viral.

Keyon Harrold, a Grammy-winning trumpet player, was staying there with his 14-year-old son when he said Miya Ponsetto approached his son in the lobby to accuse him of stealing her phone.

In the video, the 22-year-old Ponsetto could be seen yelling at the teen and lunging at him, while Harrold's son, Keyon Harrold, Jr., could be heard denying that he stole the phone.
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Lauren Glassberg has the latest on a California woman now in custody after her confrontation with a Black teen over his phone.


Ponsetto was charged in Manhattan over the weekend with two counts of attempted assault, attempted robbery, grand larceny and endangering the welfare of a child.

Her cellphone was ultimately found by an Uber driver.
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Miya Ponsetto, 22, faces multiple charges for Manhattan hotel incident.


"All we want to do is take the chains off," Harrold's mother, Kat Rodriguez said Monday. "All we want to do is break the chains off."

Ponsetto apologized for her actions in an interview with "CBS This Morning" that aired Friday, but the family said it fell flat.

"I don't feel that that is who I am as a person, I don't feel like this one mistake does define me," she said during the interview, which was filmed Thursday before her arrest. "But I do sincerely from the bottom of my heart apologize that if I made the son feel as if I assaulted him or if I hurt his feelings or the father's feelings."

The Harrold family said Ponsetto's words aren't good enough.

"So 22 is not an excuse," Rodriguez said. "I ask Miya today if she has any idea what she has done?"

Ponsetto's former attorney, Sharen Ghatan, said in a statement to ABC News that she was "extremely concerned" about Ponsetto's mental state.

"It is clear that she is emotionally unwell," she said.

RELATED | Black teen accused of stealing phone in viral incident at NYC hotel says he's shell shocked
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Keyon Harrold and his son -- along with mother Kat Harrold and attorney Ben Crump -- speak out after they say a woman attacked the Black 14-year-old, accusing him of stealing her phone.


Crump and Harrold Jr.'s parents have also accused the hotel staff of improperly handling the situation.

Rodriguez, standing with civil rights leaders including the Reverand Al Sharpton outside City Hall, also called for a boycott of the Arlo SoHo and its parent company Quadrum Global.

"When Arlo SoHo Hotel sided with her and ask my son, a patron of the hotel, to show his phone to the manager, they violated my son's rights," Rodriguez said.

The hotel, which previously apologized in a social media post, released the following statement:

"We're deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel. In investigating the incident further, we've learned that the manager on duty promptly called the police regarding the woman's conduct and that hotel security intervened to prevent further violence; still, more could have been done to de-escalate the dispute. No Arlo guest - or any person - should be subject to this kind of behavior. We want to apologize to Mr. Harrold and his son for this inexcusable experience, and have reached out to them directly to express our sincere regret and to offer help in dealing with this traumatic event. We are committed to making sure this never happens again at any of our hotels."

Ponsetto was arrested in her hometown of Piru, California, on Thursday, after fleeing the Ventura County Sheriff's Department as it tried to make a traffic stop on a fugitive warrant for her arrest, officials said. Once she stopped in front of a home, she put up a fight and resisted arrest, authorities told ABC News. During a virtual court appearance on Friday, she agreed to be extradited to New York.

Her next court appearance in New York will come March 29.

Ponsetto was also arrested in California three times in 2020, though she'd never been arrested prior to last year.

On Feb. 28, she was arrested for public intoxication after getting into a fight outside a hotel, according to charging documents. She was charged with driving under the influence on May 29 after someone called police when they saw her get into a car leaving a grocery store while apparently intoxicated. She was pulled over and found with open containers of alcohol and marijuana in her car and was charged with driving with a suspended license, according to the charging documents.

Her third arrest last year came on Oct. 10 when she was charged with DUI, driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest. She had allegedly got into a physical altercation with her mother after leaving her car abandoned at a nearby intersection and then tackled a responding officer to the ground. Her blood alcohol limit was 0.14, almost twice the legal limit, police said.

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