Woman Who Attacked Black Teen in a SoHo Hotel Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime but Avoids Jail Time

In December 2020, Miya Ponsetto was captured on video tackling a Black teenage boy after wrongly accusing him of stealing her cell phone

Miya Ponsetto
Miya Ponsetto. Photo: Ventura County Sheriff's Department

The woman who falsely accused a Black 14-year-old boy of stealing her cell phone before attacking him in a New York City hotel has entered a plea deal, avoiding jail time.

On Monday Miya Ponsetto, 23, who has been dubbed "SoHo Karen", pleaded guilty to second-degree unlawful Imprisonment as a hate crime, a felony, and second-degree aggravated harassment, a misdemeanor, for the 2020 incident at SoHo's Arlo Hotel, Fox 29 reports. Due to the plea, she will not have to spend any time behind bars. However, she's required to complete two years of probation in California, where she lives, and is already on probation for another case.

When her probation is over, Posnetto can withdraw her felony plea and enter a plea for a misdemeanor with time served. Still, she could get up to four years in prison if she doesn't comply with the conditions of her probation and plea deal.

"Ms. Ponsetto displayed outrageous behavior," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. said, according to CBS News. "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."

Bragg did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Ponsetto's lawyer Paul D'Emilia tells PEOPLE: "We are pleased that today's proceeding brought this unfortunate misunderstanding closer to a final resolution. Miya Ponsetto has been leading an exemplary life since this incident with the young man close to a year and a half ago."

He adds, "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."

"Ms. Ponsetto looks forward to her eventual final plea to the Harassment charge - a plea that we feel more realistically reflects her actions that night at the Arlo Hotel."

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D'Emilia goes on to tell PEOPLE that Ponsetto hopes the victim "accepts her regrets and apology for her behavior that evening and that all involved can move forward with added insight and compassion."

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On Dec. 26, 2020, Ponsetto, who initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, was seen on camera approaching the teen and his father, jazz musician Keyon Harrold, in the hotel's lobby.

Ponsetto accused the then 14-year-old boy of stealing her phone, ultimately tackling him in an attempt to get the phone from him. (Her missing phone was later found at the hotel.)

Harrold captured the alleged assault in a one-minute video which later went viral online. The incident was also seen on the hotel's surveillance camera.

Ponsetto was arrested on Jan. 7, 2021, outside her residence in Piru, California.

A police source confirmed to PEOPLE at the time that Ponsetto did not cooperate with authorities, and had to be forcibly removed from her car after nearly slamming the driver's side door on a deputy from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

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