Woman accused of attacking Black teen in NY hotel charged with hate crime, pleads not guilty

Miya Ponsetto accused Keyon Harrold Jr. of stealing her phone in December 2020.

June 30, 2021, 5:01 PM

A California woman who allegedly falsely accused a Black teenager of stealing her cellphone at the Arlo Hotel in New York City last year was arraigned in Manhattan on Wednesday and charged with hate crimes.

Miya Ponsetto, 22, pleaded not guilty.

On Dec. 26, 2020, in the lobby of a Manhattan hotel, she falsely accused the 14-year-old son of Grammy-winning Black jazz musician Keyon Harrold of stealing her phone, and appeared to attack him in a video that went viral.

Ponsetto was indicted by the grand jury of the county of New York on two counts of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree as a hate crime, aggravated harassment in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child. She appeared for her arraignment virtually.

She was arrested on Jan. 8 in California and at the time was charged in Manhattan with two counts of attempted assault, attempted robbery grand larceny and endangering the welfare of a child. At the time she was not charged with a hate crime, something for which Harrold's family has repeatedly asked.

PHOTO: Jazz musician Keyon Harrold speaks at a press conference held in lower Manhattan on Dec. 30, 2020, in New York City.
Jazz musician Keyon Harrold speaks at a press conference held in lower Manhattan on Dec. 30, 2020, in New York City. After Harrold shared video footage of a white woman assaulting his son and wrongfully accusing the boy of stealing her phone in a Manhattan hotel lobby, civil rights leaders have called for an end to persistent racial profiling and injustice.
Scott Heins/Getty Images, FILE

In the footage that Harrold recorded, Ponsetto is seen yelling at Keyon Jr. and lunging at him as he can be heard denying that he stole her phone.

During the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Sarah Marquez said that a Lyft driver returned the phone in question to the hotel saying it was left in their vehicle.

PHOTO: A woman accuses Keyon Harrold's 14-year-old son of stealing her phone at the Arlo Hotel in New York on Dec. 26, 2020.
A woman accuses Keyon Harrold's 14-year-old son of stealing her phone at the Arlo Hotel in New York on Dec. 26, 2020.
NYPD

Ponsetto is due back in court in October. Her attorney, Paul D'Emilia, told ABC News that the decision to file felony hate crime charges was "shameful."

"The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute," her attorney said. "In sum, they are absurd and a perversion of our legal system."

The Harrold family and their attorney, Ben Crump, planned to hold a press conference later on Wednesday.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events