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Woman pleads guilty to hate crime for falsely accusing Black teen of taking her phone

FILE - This photo from Friday Jan. 8, 2021, provided by Ventura County Sheriff's Office in California shows a police booking photo of Miya Ponsetto.
Ventura County Sheriff's Office
/
AP
FILE - This photo from Friday Jan. 8, 2021, provided by Ventura County Sheriff's Office in California shows a police booking photo of Miya Ponsetto.

A California woman pleaded guilty Monday to a 2020 hate crime in New York, in which she falsely accused a Black teenager of stealing her phone.

Miya Ponsetto, 23, was at the Arlo Hotel in December 2020 when she got into a confrontation with a teen, 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr., about a cellphone. Video shows her grabbing at him as he tried to get away. Her phone was found soon afterward in an Uber.

Ponsetto of Piru, Calif., was arrested in her home state on Jan. 7, 2021, and eventually convicted of evading law enforcement, disobeying a peace officer and resisting arrest. She was arrested two days later in New York on charges of a second-degree hate crime, unlawful imprisonment and aggravated harassment.

Ponsetto apologized but defended herself in a television interview conducted before she was arrested in California.

"I don't feel that that is who I am as a person. I don't feel like this one mistake does define me," she said in a CBS This Morning interview. "But I do sincerely from the bottom of my heart apologize that if I made the son feel as if I assaulted him or if I hurt his feelings or the father's feelings."

In 2020, Ponsetto was convicted of driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest.

The family of the teen has filed a lawsuit against Ponsetto and the hotel, alleging racial profiling.

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Ayana Archie