California

‘SoHo Karen’ Miya Ponsetto, 23, gets probation after pleading guilty to attacking black teenager

The California woman who gained national notoriety for wrongly accusing a black teenager of stealing her cellphone and then attacking him at a trendy Manhattan hotel – earning her the nickname ‘SoHo Karen’ – avoided being thrown in prison after striking a deal with prosecutors.

Miya Ponsetto, 23, from Simi Valley, agreed to plead guilty to a hate crime for the December 2020 incident at the Arlo Hotel in exchange for two years’ probation, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Monday. 

She accused 15-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr, the son of famed jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold, of stealing her phone. She had in fact left it in her Uber.  

Ponsetto pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment in the second degree as a hate crime, said Bragg, the progressive prosecutor who has been criticized for pursuing light sentences for felonies. 

She avoided jail but was sentenced to probation, and will be required for two years to abide by the terms of her California probation stemming from a separate case.

She must also continue counseling, and avoid committing further crimes.

If she complies, she will after two years have her charges reduced from felony to aggravated harassment in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor. 

If not, she could be sentenced to four years in state prison.

‘Ms Ponsetto displayed outrageous behavior,’ said Bragg. 

‘As a black man, I have personally experienced racial profiling countless times in my life and I sympathize with the young man victimized in this incident. 

‘This plea ensures appropriate accountability for Ms Ponsetto by addressing underlying causes for her behavior and ensuring this conduct does not reoccur.’

Miya Ponsetto is pictured on Monday in court in Manhattan. She was sentenced to two years probation but avoided jail time for the hate crime

Ponsetto, 23, is pictured in court on Monday for her sentencing

Ponsetto, 23, is pictured in court on Monday for her sentencing

The 23-year-old from California was ordered to keep attending counseling and avoid further encounters with law enforcement for two years, after which she can have her charges reduced to a misdemeanor

The 23-year-old from California was ordered to keep attending counseling and avoid further encounters with law enforcement for two years, after which she can have her charges reduced to a misdemeanor

Ponsetto is pictured leaving court on Monday with her legal team

Ponsetto is pictured leaving court on Monday with her legal team

Ponsetto was initially unrepentant, telling Gayle King: 'I feel sorry that I made the family go through, like, all of that stress. But at the same time, it wasn't just them going through that. 'I don't feel like this one mistake does define me'

Ponsetto was initially unrepentant, telling Gayle King: ‘I feel sorry that I made the family go through, like, all of that stress. But at the same time, it wasn’t just them going through that. ‘I don’t feel like this one mistake does define me’

Ponsetto was initially charged with assault following the hotel scuffle, but was in June arraigned on three new counts: unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child

Ponsetto was initially charged with assault following the hotel scuffle, but was in June arraigned on three new counts: unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child

Ponsetto was dubbed 'SoHo Karen' after she was seen in a now-viral video (pictured) attacking African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold's son Keyon Jr

Ponsetto accused Keyon Jr (pictured) of stealing her phone

Ponsetto was dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ after she was seen in a video (left) falsely accusing African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold’s son Keyon Jr (right) of stealing her iPhone at the Arlo Hotel on December 26 

Ponsetto’s actions inside the boutique hotel were filmed by Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold (right) as she approached his son, Keyon Jr. (left)

Ponsetto’s actions inside the boutique hotel were filmed by Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold (right) as she approached his son, Keyon Jr. (left)

Keyon Harrold Jr (left) posted a photo of him and his father on November 18, 2021, celebrating his dad's 54th birthday

Keyon Harrold Jr (left) posted a photo of him and his father on November 18, 2021, celebrating his dad’s 54th birthday

The teenager is seen in Washington Square in Manhattan in a photo posted to Instagram in April 2021

The teenager is seen in Washington Square in Manhattan in a photo posted to Instagram in April 2021

Harrold Jr (far left) posted a photo on Instagram on Wednesday, celebrating his uncle, Grammy-nominated Robert Glasper (far right)

Harrold Jr (far left) posted a photo on Instagram on Wednesday, celebrating his uncle, Grammy-nominated Robert Glasper (far right)

Ponsetto’s attorney said on Monday he was grateful to Bragg.

‘Miya Ponsetto has been leading an exemplary life since this incident with the young man close to a year and a half ago,’ said Paul D’Emilia. 

‘We are appreciative of the district attorney’s thoughtful and empathetic approach to finding an acceptable conclusion — especially in light of the unreasonable pressure brought to bear by many voices not familiar with the more granular details of what occurred that evening.’

D’Emilia described the encounter as an ‘unfortunate misunderstanding’ and said the misdemeanor harassment charge to which she will plead if she stays out of trouble ‘more realistically reflects her actions that night at the Arlo Hotel.’ 

He added: ‘It is Ms Ponsetto’s wish that Keyon Harrold accepts her regrets and apology for her behavior that evening, and that all involved can move forward with added insight and compassion.’  

The teen’s family filed a civil lawsuit against Ponsetto and the hotel, alleging racial profiling. The case is pending.  

The lawsuit lists Ponsetto as a defendant, as well as Arlo Soho hotel, its owner company Quadrum Hospitality Group, hotel manager Chad Nathan and others. 

The lawsuit alleges violation of New York City Human Rights Law and New York State Human Rights Law, and also accuses her of assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, negligence, and loss of service.

The hotel and its management group are also accused of negligent hiring, with the lawsuit claiming Nathan ‘had a history of racially prejudiced behavior and misconduct.’

Keyon Harrold Sr., right, is joined by attorney Ben Crump, center, and Katty Rodriguez as he speaks to reporters during a news conference to announce the filing of a lawsuit against Arlo Hotels and Miya Ponsetto in March 2021

Keyon Harrold Sr., right, is joined by attorney Ben Crump, center, and Katty Rodriguez as he speaks to reporters during a news conference to announce the filing of a lawsuit against Arlo Hotels and Miya Ponsetto in March 2021

Attorney Ben Crump, Attorney Paul Napoli along with the Keyon Harrolds father Keyon Harrold Sr and mother Katty Rodrigeuz announce the filing of a law suit against the Arlo Hotel

Attorney Ben Crump, Attorney Paul Napoli along with the Keyon Harrolds father Keyon Harrold Sr and mother Katty Rodrigeuz announce the filing of a law suit against the Arlo Hotel

The new civil suit dives into the altercation from the vantage point of the Harrold family.

‘On the day after Christmas, Keyon Harrold and Keyon Harrold, Jr. headed to a restaurant in the lobby of the Arlo Soho Hotel, where they had been staying, in order to have brunch. 

‘As soon as they entered the lobby, they were suddenly confronted and racially profiled by defendants Chad Nathan and Miya Ponsetto.’

The lawsuit then accuses Ponsetto of chasing and tackling Harrold Jr. after she ‘disregarded all of the other non-African American individuals in the lobby.’ 

Nathan allegedly helped detain Harrold Jr. while hotel security guards stood idly by.

After the attack, Harrold, a Grammy-winning musician, called the police to report what had just occurred. 

‘As a result of defendants actions, Plaintiffs have suffered loss and injury, including but not limited to physical and emotional pain and suffering, great mental distress, shock, fright, economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress, feelings of racial stigmatization, an increased sense of vulnerability, and unlawful deprivation of their protected rights to exercise and enjoy equal treatment….’

The lawsuit is seeking damages, as well as attorney’s fees and costs, but does not list a desired dollar amount. 

The boy's mother Katty Rodrigeuz announce the filing of the law suit in March 2021

The boy’s mother Katty Rodrigeuz announce the filing of the law suit in March 2021

Attorney Ben Crump flashes the family's lawsuit at the press during the announcement in March 2021

Attorney Ben Crump flashes the family’s lawsuit at the press during the announcement in March 2021

Ponsetto has a long history of run-ins with the law.

On February 28, 2020, Ponsetto was charged with public intoxication after she, her mother and another person were involved in a physical altercation at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.

On May 29, 2020, and again on October 10, 2020, she was charged in Los Angeles with DUI.

Police were called last May after witness saw her leave a Malibu supermarket ‘clearly intoxicated’ as she drove away in a vehicle.

Officers responding to a 911 call found her with open containers of alcohol and marijuana in the car. She was also charged with driving with a suspended license.

In the October incident, police responding to a 911 call found Ponsetto in a gas station parking lot, again in a physical altercation with her mother.

The car she had been driving was abandoned at a nearby intersection.

As an officer tried to place her in cuffs, she resisted, and he was seen wrestling her to the ground.

Ponsetto is pictured in her booking photo from January 8, 2021

Ponsetto is pictured in her booking photo from January 8, 2021

‘I’m not even touching you,’ she is heard shrieking. ‘You are asking for literally a lawsuit. I didn’t do anything to you.’

She was also charged with driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest.

In September 2020, a judge sentenced Ponsetto to summary probation for three years after she pleaded no contest to driving under the influence.  

In January 2021, a California judge dropped a misdemeanor count of public intoxication against Ponsetto, related to the February 2020 arrest at the Peninsula.

Her mother, Nicole Ponsetto, pleaded no contest to battery on a police officer and public intoxication in the same incident.

She was sentenced to to 100 hours of community service and entered a 12-month diversion program. 

Miya Ponsetto remained defiant after the attack at the hotel just months later, telling Gayle King in early 2021 that she only regretted making the boy ‘feel inferior.’ 

She also denied that race played a role in the incident because she is a ‘woman of color.’ 

‘I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever. I’m Puerto Rican,’ Ponsetto said. 

‘I’m, like, a woman of color. I’m Italian, Greek, Puerto Rican.’ 

Ponsetto did offer a roundabout apology to the boy, saying: ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart.’ 

She added: ‘He is honestly – he’s 14? That’s what they’re claiming? Yeah. 

‘I’m 22. I’ve lived probably just the same amount of life as him. Like, honestly. I’m just as a kid at heart as he is.

‘I feel sorry that I made the family go through, like, all of that stress. But at the same time, it wasn’t just them going through that.

‘I don’t feel like this one mistake does define me. 

‘I consider myself to be super sweet. I’m a 22-year-old girl… how is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime?’

The CBS sit-down was marked by Ponsetto, wearing a black cap emblazoned with the word ‘Daddy,’ snapping at King and telling her: ‘Alright Gayle, enough’ as she was pressed on the incident, and told she was ‘old enough to know better.’  

Ponsetto remained unapologetic during ensuing media interviews, telling Gayle King that she only regretted making the boy ‘feel inferior'

Ponsetto remained unapologetic during ensuing media interviews, telling Gayle King that she only regretted making the boy ‘feel inferior’

NYPD were searching for Ponsetto after the December 2020 attack, and eventually arrested her in LA

NYPD were searching for Ponsetto after the December 2020 attack, and eventually arrested her in LA

Miya Ponsetto, 23, also known as 'SoHo Karen,' is pictured during a court hearing in November

Miya Ponsetto, 23, also known as ‘SoHo Karen,’ is pictured during a court hearing in November

Ponsetto, who was charged after falsely accusing a black teen of stealing her cell phone inside a boutique hotel last December, appeared at Manhattan Supreme Court in November

Ponsetto, who was charged after falsely accusing a black teen of stealing her cell phone inside a boutique hotel last December, appeared at Manhattan Supreme Court in November

She was joined by lawyer Paul D'Emilia, who later said his client was 'grossly overcharged'

She was joined by lawyer Paul D’Emilia, who later said his client was ‘grossly overcharged’

In November 2021, Ponsetto, asked about the Arlo Hotel incident, said: ‘I just wish I had apologized differently.’ 

Ponsetto’s attorney, Paul D’Emilia, informed the court during the November status hearing that she has been seeing a therapist and trying to schedule anger management classes.    

Ponsetto’s actions inside the boutique hotel were filmed by Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold as he approached his son, Keyon Jr.

In the recording, Ponsetto is seen pushing and grabbing at the father and son, allegedly even scratching Keyon Sr.’s hands as she attempted to snatch his cell phone, wrongly believing it to be hers.

Ponsetto, who lives in Los Angeles, was initially charged with assault and was permitted to fly back to California on bail, where she remains.

She was arraigned via video conference in June 2021 with three new counts: unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.

Ponsetto was flown from her California home in January 2021 and charged

Ponsetto was flown from her California home in January 2021 and charged

Ponsetto claimed in interviews she’d been stopping everyone in the hotel lobby during the search for her missing phone.

‘I was approaching the people that had been exiting the hotel – because in my mind, anybody exiting might be the one trying to steal my phone,’ she said.

Moments after the hotel scuffle, an Uber driver returned the missing phone to Ponsetto.

Harrold and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, staged a rally in Manhattan shortly after the incident alongside their attorney Ben Crump and the Reverend Al Sharpton. 

‘When I saw this story, I thought about how I was one of those kids whose father never took him anywhere for Christmas, never had brunch with my father,’ Sharpton said.

‘And for this black man to take his black son, put him in a hotel during a pandemic, and spend Christmas with him, raising him, and to be assaulted because of the color of their skin, I wanted to stand with this man and this woman who provided for their son, and they’re being criminalized for it. 

‘The arrogance and audacity of this woman.’

‘SoHo Karen’ Miya Ponsetto, 23, gets probation after pleading guilty to attacking black teenager Source link ‘SoHo Karen’ Miya Ponsetto, 23, gets probation after pleading guilty to attacking black teenager

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