Michelle Thompson, Daily Mail, November 8, 2021
A lawyer for the woman dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ for falsely accusing a black teen of stealing her phone in the lobby of a Manhattan hotel says she has been ‘grossly overcharged’.
Miya Ponsetto, 23, appeared in the Manhattan Supreme Court for a status hearing on Monday on the charges she faces – including unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child, which could see her facing up to 10 years in prison.
Ponsetto’s lawyer told the judge that he is trying to ‘resolve’ the hate crime charge in the case within the next few months.
She went viral last year after attacking 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. in the lobby of upscale boutique hotel Arlo Soho on December 26, 2020 and falsely accusing him of stealing her iPhone. Harrold Jr. is the son of jazz musician Keyon Harrold.
She later discovered that she forgot her phone in an Uber, and the driver returned it to her.
During a status hearing in court on Monday, criminal defense attorney Paul D’Emilia told DailyMail.com following the hearing that he believed his client was ‘grossly overcharged’.
‘She was charged with crimes that were greatly enhanced, if I could say that,’ he said. ‘We don’t feel those charges are appropriate, but hopefully there’s something that we can reach that will be satisfactory to everybody.’
Ponsetto’s actions inside the boutique hotel were filmed by Grammy-winning African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold as she approached his son, Keyon Jr.
In the recording, Ponsetto is seen pushing and grabbing at the father and son, allegedly even scratching Keyon Sr’s hands as she attempted to snatch his cell phone, wrongly believing it to be hers.
She remained unapologetic during ensuing media interviews, telling Gayle King that she only regretted making the boy ‘feel inferior.’
Ponsetto, who lives in Los Angeles, was initially charged with assault and was permitted to fly back to California on bail, where she remains.
She was arraigned via video conference in June with three new counts: unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.
D’Emilia said the situation has left his client feeling shaken.
‘Obviously she gets a lot of unwanted attention. she gets a lot of inappropriate calls and letters and things like that,’ he said.
‘She’s just trying to get our life together. She’s working and just trying to get by and make the best of the situation. It’s a little frightening for her.’
Ponsetto did offer a roundabout apology to the boy during an interview earlier this year with CBS, saying: ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. He is honestly – he’s 14? That’s what they’re claiming? Yeah. I’m 22. I’ve lived probably just the same amount of life as him. Like, honestly. I’m just as a kid at heart as he is,’ she said.
‘I feel sorry that I made the family go through, like, all of that stress. But at the same time, it wasn’t just them going through that.
‘I don’t feel like this one mistake does define me,’ Ponsetto said. ‘I consider myself to be super sweet. I’m a 22-year-old girl… how is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime?’
Ponsetto claimed she’d been stopping everyone in the hotel lobby.
‘I was approaching the people that had been exiting the hotel – because in my mind, anybody exiting might be the one trying to steal my phone,’ she said.
Moments after the hotel scuffle, an Uber driver reportedly returned the missing phone to Ponsetto.
Harrold and Keyon Jr.’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, staged a rally in Manhattan shortly after the incident alongside their attorney Ben Crump and Reverend Al Sharpton.
‘When I saw this story, I thought about how I was one of those kids whose father never took him anywhere for Christmas, never had brunch with my father,’ Sharpton said.
‘And for this Black man to take his Black son, put him in a hotel during a pandemic, and spend Christmas with him, raising him, and to be assaulted because of the color of their skin, I wanted to stand with this man and this woman who provided for their son, and they’re being criminalized for it. The arrogance and audacity of this woman.’