Po­lice say woman sought to ex­tort money from Spitzer

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - As­so­ci­ated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this story.

NEW YORK (AP) >> A young Rus­sian woman who put for­mer New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer back in the tabloid head­lines last win­ter when she told doc­tors he had choked her at a Man­hat­tan ho­tel has been ar­rested for try­ing to ex­tort money from him, po­lice said.

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

Zakharova left the U.S. in Fe­bru­ary after she was treated at a hos­pi­tal and in­ter­viewed by po­lice fol­low­ing an en­counter with Spitzer in her room at The Plaza Ho­tel, the lux­u­ri­ous land­mark over­look­ing Cen­tral Park.

Spitzer, a Demo­crat who re­signed in 2008 amid rev­e­la­tions that he had sex with pros­ti­tutes, ac­knowl­edged hav­ing been with the woman, but said through his at­tor­ney that the as­sault al­le­ga­tions were false and cre­ated by some­one with “emo­tional dif­fi­cul­ties.”

Months later he filed a law­suit against the woman, say­ing he had been pay­ing her money to keep their re­la­tion­ship quiet. In the suit, he claimed she had de­manded hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars and trips to Paris, or she would “ruin his life.” He also claimed Zakharova had con­tacted one of his daugh­ters on so­cial media.

Spitzer’s lawyers with­drew the law­suit in Septem­ber, just two months after it was filed.

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

Adam Kauf­mann, an at­tor­ney for Spitzer, said on Tues­day that pros­e­cu­tors had no­ti­fied the lawyer about the ar­rest on “ex­tor­tion-re­lated crimes against Mr. Spitzer and oth­ers,” but said he had no fur­ther de­tails. Spitzer will co­op­er­ate with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion “if called upon to do so,” he added.

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, 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 self­harm,” 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.

Charges were never 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-yearold Bloom­field, New Jersey, man’s in­for­ma­tion and signed a lease agree­ment that ended up cost­ing him $18,000.

Spitzer was iden­ti­fied as a pros­ti­tu­tion ring pa­tron dur­ing a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 2008, but was not charged.

Zakharova left the U.S. in Fe­bru­ary after she was treated at a hos­pi­tal and in­ter­viewed by po­lice fol­low­ing an en­counter with Spitzer in her room at The Plaza Ho­tel, the lux­u­ri­ous land­mark over­look­ing Cen­tral Park.

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