Woman accused of trying to extort money from ex-Gov. Spitzer


NEW YORK (AP) — A woman who accused former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer of assaulting her has been arrested for trying to extort money from him, police said.

Svetlana Zakharova, 26, was arrested Monday night in New York City.

The Russian woman had fled the country after accusing Spitzer in February of assaulting her in a room at The Plaza Hotel, an allegation his attorney said was false and created by someone with “emotional difficulties.”

Spitzer, a Democrat, resigned as governor in 2008 amid revelations that he had sex with prostitutes. He was named as a prostitution ring patron during a federal investigation, but was not charged.

Zakharova was charged with extortion and was scheduled to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday. It was not immediately known if she has an attorney who can comment on the charges.

Spitzer and Zakharova met up at The Plaza Hotel in February while she was traveling from California, where she had been living, to her native Russia, Spitzer attorney Adam Kaufmann said at the time.

“They had a brief and amicable conversation, and then Mr. Spitzer left,” Kaufmann said. But she called a few hours later and asked that he return to the room, where she had become “highly emotional and was threatening self- harm,” he said.

The woman called 911, saying she had cut herself and was distraught and having a breakdown, two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press in February. They were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. She called back and tried to cancel the emergency call but police were already en route, they said.

When police arrived, they noticed the woman had a cut on her arm and took her to a hospital. There, she told doctors that Spitzer had choked and shoved her, the officials said.

She did not want to press charges, and left on a flight to Russia the next day, one official and Kaufmann said.

No charges were ever filed against Spitzer in the case.

Police did not say Monday night how much Zakharova was allegedly trying to extort from him.

Zakharova also was charged with forgery in an unrelated case in which police said she used a 67-year-old Bloomfield, New Jersey man’s information and signed a lease agreement that ended up costing him $18,000.

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