Hate crime charge for woman in NYC hotel confrontation

Posted at 5:56 PM, June 30, 2021 and last updated 7:40 PM, May 12, 2023

NEW YORK (AP) — A California woman who wrongly accused a Black teen of taking her phone at a New York City hotel late last year and grabbed at him as he tried to leave now faces hate crime charges.

This booking photo provided by Ventura County Sheriff’s Office in California shows Miya Ponsetto. Ponsetto, who falsely accused a Black teenager of stealing her phone and then tackled him at a New York City hotel on Dec. 26 , 2020 was arrested Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in her home state of California. She was jailed in Ventura County, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office there said. It wasn’t immediately clear what charges she might face. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Miya Ponsetto was arraigned in court in Manhattan via videoconference Wednesday on charges including unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.

Ponsetto was at the Arlo Hotel in December when she got into a confrontation with a teen, 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr., saying he had stolen her phone. Video shows her grabbing at him as he tried to get away. Her phone was found soon afterward in an Uber.

Ponsetto, of Piru, California, was initially arrested in January on other charges. At her arraignment Wednesday, she pleaded not guilty to the hate crime, harassment and endangering charges she was indicted on by a grand jury. Her next court date is scheduled for Oct. 20.

Her attorney, Paul D’Emilia, said in a statement, “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.”

The family of the teen has filed a lawsuit against Ponsetto and the hotel alleging racial profiling.

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