NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A high-priced Russian call girl pleaded not guilty Tuesday to allegedly trying to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, Svetlana Travis Zakharova at first refused to enter the courtroom when she saw that news photographers were present.
That was the worst nightmare for the 26-year-old woman, who worked as a $5,000-a-night prostitute and really cares about how she looks.
Zakharova has been jailed since returning to New York from Moscow, at which point she was locked up for attempting to shake down Spitzer.
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.
On Tuesday, Zakharova was wearing prison garb, and she using long, straggly hair to try and cover her pretty face, Cornell reported.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Charles Solomon heard arguments on bail. The defense argued that $1 million is excessive, but the Manhattan District Attorney’s office wants it increased because Zakharova has made so much money through ads on a prostitution website that she sends it back to Russia.
The judge let the bail stand, noting that even Zakharova giving up her passport would not stop her from flying back to Russia illegally.
Zakharova also stands 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.
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.