Miya Ponsetto—better known as “Soho Karen” online—who attacked and wrongly accused a Black teen she spotted at a Manhattan hotel in December 2020 of stealing her cellphone, pleaded guilty to a hate crime Monday as part of a plea deal that allows her to avoid prison, according to New York Post.
Ponsetto, 23, copped to one count of felony unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime for attacking 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. after accusing him of the theft in the Arlo Soho Hotel in December 2020.
Under the agreement, in two years, Ponsetto’s charge will be reduced to aggravated harassment, a misdemeanor, if she continues counseling and avoids any interaction with the criminal justice system by leading a “law-abiding life” the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.
If she fails to comply with the terms in the agreement, Ponsetto could face up to four years in prison.
Justice Laura Ward told Ponsetto in Manhattan Supreme Court. “You have been given a tremendous opportunity. Turn this lousy situation into a good situation so you never find yourself here again.”
Ponsetto was also ordered to have no contact with Harrold Jr. or his father, jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold for the next two years.
Harrold took to his Instagram, following the ruling. With a screen shot of the headline “White Woman Pleads Guilty in Alleged Racist NYC Hotel Confirmation With Black Teen” with a picture of Ponsetto from civil rights attorney Ben Crump’s Instagram, Harrold thanked followers for their ongoing support as his family fights for justice.
He continued, “My son and our family deserve more than an apology after being wrongfully and aggressively attacked in the lobby of the Arlo hotel. For Ms. Ponsetto to describe the unprovoked assault as a “mistake” minimizes the trauma that Keyon, Jr. continues to feel to this day.”
Harrold explained that his family not only blames Ponsetto, but also the Arlo Hotel for not deescalating the situation.
He closed, “The only way we can get individuals and corporations to change the culture of systemic racism is to hold them accountable for their actions each and every time. A clear message that this sort of abhorrent behavior will not be tolerated needs to be made, period.”
The Harrold family is currently suing Ponsetto and the Arlo Soho Hotel.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg chimed in after the court hearing, “Ms. Ponsetto displayed outrageous behavior. 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,” he added.
Ponsetto was previously charged twice with DUI in 2020 and was put on probation as a result.