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Hate crime charges against 'Karen' who attacked black teen she falsely accused of stealing her iPhone are dropped; lawyer says she was 'unjustly vilified in public' for 'mishap'

A woman who was nicknamed “SoHo Karen” after she falsely accused a black teenager on camera of stealing her cellphone in a New York hotel has been able to have the hate crime she was accused of over the incident expunged from her record.

Miya Ponsetto originally pleaded guilty to false imprisonment as a hate crime for inciting an altercation with then-14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. at the Arlo Soho Hotel on December 26, 2020.

Harrold's father recorded the encounter, in which Ponsetto can be seen approaching his son and accusing him to a hotel manager of taking her iPhone. Video from the hotel lobby shows Harrold and his son, who were guests at the hotel, attempting to walk away from Ponsetto after denying her false claims, but she follows him, grabs Harrold Jr. and throws him to the ground to prevent him from leaving.

Hate crime allegations deleted from Soho Karen file
Miya Ponsetto, 22, was dubbed “SoHo Karen” for falsely accusing a black teenager of stealing and attacking him. (Photo: Venutra County Sheriff's Office, video screenshot)

Ponsetto later realized that she had left her iPhone in an Uber vehicle she had taken earlier that day.

The deal she made with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in April 2022 stipulated that the hate crime could be expunged from her record as long as the 26-year-old stayed out of trouble with the law and completed two years of therapy.

She fulfilled the terms of that deal this year, entering a new plea to second-degree aggravated harassment. Had she not kept her end of the agreement, she could have faced prison time.

“Despite my belief that this case was intentionally misrepresented and mischaracterized, I am relieved that our office was able to successfully persuade the New York District Attorney to waive any permanent damages to Miya,” Ponsetto's attorney Paul D'Emilia said, according to the New York Post. “Ms. Ponsetto was unfairly publicly vilified as a result of this mishap.”

In a 2021 interview with Gayle King on “CBS Mornings,” Ponsetto apologized to the Harrold family, saying she could have “handled the situation differently,” but also vigorously sought to defend her actions.

“So maybe it wasn't him. But how can it be that when I come back after accusing this person of stealing my phone and they asked me to leave the premises, they suddenly have my phone?” Ponsetto asked King rhetorically.

She also denied that her behavior toward Harrold Jr. was racially motivated because she is a woman of color.

“I'm a 22-year-old girl. Racism – how can it be a crime for a girl to accuse a guy of a phone? Where is the context? What is the deeper story here?”

The Harrold family also sued Ponsetto. The case is currently pending.