Hate crime charge against woman in New York hotel showdown

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FILE – This Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 photo, provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office in California, shows a police reservation photo of Miya Ponsetto. Ponsetto was arraigned in Manhattan court on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 on charges of unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the well-being of a child, after wrongly accusing a black teenage girl picking up her phone. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

FILE – This Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 photo, provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office in California, shows a police reservation photo of Miya Ponsetto. Ponsetto was arraigned in Manhattan court on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 on charges of unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the well-being of a child, after wrongly accusing a black teenage girl picking up her phone. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – A California woman who falsely accused a black teenage girl of picking up her phone from a New York hotel late last year and grabbing it while trying to leave is now charged with a hate crime.

Miya Ponsetto was arraigned on Wednesday in Manhattan via video conference and has pleaded not guilty to unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering a child’s well-being.

Ponsetto was at the Arlo Hotel in December when she had a confrontation with a teenage boy, Keyon Harrold Jr., 14, whom she accused of stealing his phone. The video shows her grabbing on him as he tried to escape. Her phone was found shortly after in an Uber.

Ponsetto, of Piru, Calif., Was initially arrested in January on other counts related to the confrontation. The 22-year-old initially appeared to apologize, but later backed down in a tense interview on a CBS morning news show.

His next court date is scheduled for October 20.

“The alleged charges are a brazen and clear overstepping of the intent of the law,” his lawyer, Paul D’Emilia, said in a statement. “In short, they are absurd and a perversion of our legal system.”

The teenager’s family filed a complaint against Ponsetto and the hotel, alleging racial profiling.


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