NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A woman who accused former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer of assault earlier this year has been arrested for allegedly trying to extort money from him.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, Svetlana Travis Zakharova, 26, was shaking and sobbing during her appearance in court. She was arrested Monday night in New York City upon her return to the U.S., police said.
The Bronx District Attorney’s office claimed Zakharova was blackmailing Spitzer, and multiple payments were sent to her – some totaling up to $50,000.
In February, Zakharova fled to her native Russia a day after accusing Spitzer of choking her at the Plaza Hotel. Police were called and Zakharova was taken to a hospital, police said.
Spitzer was never charged and denied the assault accusations.
In July, Spitzer filed a lawsuit against Zakharova, claiming she tried to extort him. The civil suit was dropped.
Spitzer claimed he was not romantically involved with Zakharova, but never explained the nature of their relationship.
When she returned to New York, police said Zakharova was charged with grand larceny by extortion.
“She’s accused of extortion from him, as I said, through text messages and other documents,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
Boyce declined to comment on whether Spitzer ever paid Zakharova anything.
Zakharova was also charged with forgery in an unrelated case. Police said Zakharova used a Bloomfield, New Jersey man’s information to take out a lease that ended up costing him $18,000.
Spitzer’s attorney said they have been notified of the arrest.
“Our knowledge of the charges is limited to the allegations set forth in the felony complaint. Mr. Spitzer will cooperate with the Bronx District Attorney’s investigation, if called upon to do so,” attorney Adam Kaufmann said in a statement.
As to why the Bronx District Attorney’s office and not the Manhattan District Attorney’s is prosecuting, Manhattan DA CY Vance recused himself from the proceedings citing a conflict of interest — his friendship with the former governor.
Zakharova is due back in court Friday. Her bond was set at $1 million.
In 2008, Spitzer resigned as governor after being involved in a prostitution scandal. He was nicknamed “Client #9” after being caught in the high-end prostitution service.
He and his wife, Silda, divorced in 2014.
Spitzer tried to make a political comeback in 2013, but lost in the Democratic primary for New York City comptroller.