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Miya Ponsetto, who has made global headlines after a video of her accosting a Black teenager at a Manhattan hotel and accusing him of theft went viral, spent much of the weekend in police custody as she was flown across the country so she could appear before a New York judge.
On Saturday, Ponsetto was extradited from Los Angeles to New York for a preliminary court appearance in connection with the alleged attack, which was caught on video by the teenager’s father.
On Jan. 9., the 22-year-old was forcibly taken into custody by county authorities in Piru, California, and later turned over to visiting New York City police detectives. She arrived back in New York on Saturday morning and was arraigned in a Manhattan court on charges of attempted robbery, grand larceny, acting in a manner injurious to a child, and two counts of attempted assault.
In court, prosecutors described Ponsetto’s treatment of Keyon Harrold Jr., the teenager she accused on Dec. 26 of stealing her phone, as an “unprovoked attack.”
“[Ponsetto] falsely accused the 14-year-old victim of stealing her cell phone, then repeatedly attacked him and dragged him to the floor, despite the attempts of numerous witnesses to intervene,” Assistant District Attorney Sarah Marquez told the court.
Ponsetto, who was visiting her father in New York over the holiday, had misplaced her iPhone on the day of the incident and was attempting to locate the device at the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. Soon she confronted and wrestled Harrold, who was a guest at the hotel, to the floor of the lobby after she wrongly accused him of stealing her device, police said.
“You have my phone! Give me my phone! Show me your phone!” Ponsetto yelled at the teenager, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.
The incident unfolded over about four minutes, prosecutors said. Ponsetto’s phone was later recovered from an Uber. Afterward, a warrant was issued for her arrest.
The same day, Ponsetto allegedly damaged the door of a Lower East Side rental property. New York prosecutors are probing possible charges in that incident.
No bail was set following Ponsetto’s arraignment, and she’s been barred from any contact with Harrold and his family. Her lawyer confirmed that she returned home on Sunday.
“She is back home in California and this case is scheduled to pick up again on March 29 back in New York,” defense attorney Paul D’Emilia told Oxygen.com on Monday. “We’re going to monitor developments until then.”
Upon her arrival, Ponsetto was swarmed by members of the media who’d camped out at Los Angeles International Airport. Speaking to a reporter, she said that Harrold did steal her phone.
“Why did you think that kid took your phone? Because he was Black?” a reporter with the Daily Mail asked.
“No — because he did,” Ponsetto defiantly responded.
“When they asked my son for his phone and did not ask him for his side of the story, that’s when it became a racial issue,” Kat Rodriguez, the teen’s mother, told Oxygen.com last week. “That would have never happened to a white child — never.”
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio called the encounter “plain and simple” racism and the tabloids have relentlessly mocked Ponsetto, dubbing her “SoHo Karen.” Meanwhile, a petition demanding she be held accountable and arrested for the alleged attack quickly gained over 100,000 signatures.
“We were just trying to get lunch — now I’m trying to rebuild his identity as a young Black man,” Keyon Harrold Sr., the teen’s father, told Oxygen.com.
Ponsetto, who has explained that she overreacted after misplacing her phone, has repeatedly denied the incident was triggered by racial bias.
“I’m a 22-year-old girl,” Ponsetto told “CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King in an interview conducted hours before her arrest. “I don’t — racism is — how is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime?
Sharen Ghatan, Ponsetto’s former attorney, previously said her actions weren’t racially-motivated and suggesting her outburst that day was triggered by an “anxiety attack.” The California lawyer underlined the fact that her client is of Puerto Rican descent.
“She’s lacking control and restraint,” Ghatan told Oxygen.com. “She needs the type of help that I can’t give her. She needs mental health assistance.”
On Monday, Ghatan revealed that she is no longer representing Ponsetto in this incident.
“I wish her well,” she said.
While Ponsetto doesn’t have any prior criminal convictions, she is facing a trio of cases in California related to several incidents throughout 2020.
On Feb. 28, Ponsetto and her mother were charged with public intoxication following an altercation at a Beverly Hills hotel. Nicole Ponsetto, 41, was also charged with resisting arrest in the incident, according to police.
In May, police in California said they confiscated open alcohol containers and marijuana from Ponsetto’s car after a bystander, who watched her stumble from a supermarket into her vehicle, reported her to authorities. Prosecutors said that at the time she was “clearly intoxicated.” Ponsetto was charged with driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license in that incident.
Then in October, she was once again hit with a charge of driving under the influence. This time, authorities said they found her arguing with her mother in a gas station parking lot, and that her car was found deserted at a nearby intersection. Prosecutors said at one point Ponsetto threw an arresting officer to the ground. Authorities said that her blood alcohol content tested at .14 — nearly twice the legal limit.
As part of her release agreement, Manhattan Judge Michael Frishman said Ponsetto must attend all her pending California court hearings.
Ponsetto hasn’t yet entered a plea in her case in New York. Her next court date is scheduled for March 29.
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