A California woman who attacked a Black teenager and accused him of stealing her cell phone has been convicted of a hate crime.
Miya Ponsetto, 23, pleaded guilty on Monday to unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime and aggravated harassment, under a deal reached with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office that will allow her to avoid jail time.
Ponsetto was the subject of widespread outrage in December 2020, after a video posted by the jazz musician Keyon Harrold showed her accusing his 14-year-old son of stealing her iPhone inside the lobby of the Arlo Hotel.
After declaring that she is “not letting him walk away with my phone,” Ponsetto can be seen lunging at the teenager and tackling him to the ground. Her phone was later returned by an Uber driver, officials said.
The video prompted condemnation and allegations of racial profiling, and earned Ponsetto the moniker “SoHo Karen.” She attempted to defend herself in an interview with Gayle King, but grew agitated, at one point shushing King before storming off the set.
She was arrested in Los Angeles shortly after the interview – but not before attempting to flee arrest and reportedly slamming a car door on a deputy’s leg.
She had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges in July 2021 before reaching the deal the district attorney announced on Monday. As part of the agreement, Ponsetto will have to abide by the terms of her probation in California for two years, continue counseling and avoid any altercation with the criminal justice system.
If she follows the terms, she will be allowed to lower her plea to misdemeanor aggravated harassment. She could face up to four years in prison if she does not comply.
In a statement, Bragg condemned Ponsetto’s “outrageous behavior,” adding that the plea deal “ensures appropriate accountability for Ms. Ponsetto by addressing underlying causes for her behavior and ensuring this conduct does not reoccur.”
An attorney for Ponsetto, Paul D’Emilia, praised the Manhattan D.A. for finding “a thoughtful and empathetic approach” to what he described as an “unfortunate misunderstanding.”
“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 statement continued.
Inquiries to the Harrold family were not immediately returned.