Woman Who Says Spitzer Choked Her Arrested: Cops

Svetlana Zakharova allegedly said she'd 'ruin his life' if ex-NY governor didn't pay up
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 11, 2016 12:42 PM CDT
Woman Who Says Spitzer Choked Her Arrested: Cops
In this Sept. 10, 2013, file photo, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer delivers his concession speech at his election night party after losing the Democratic primary race for New York City comptroller in New York.   (Tina Fineberg)

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 say. Svetlana Zakharova, 26, was arrested Monday night in New York City, the AP reports. Zakharova left the US 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. 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." Charges were never filed against Spitzer. Months later he filed a suit against the woman, saying he'd 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. Police did not say Monday night how much Zakharova was allegedly trying to extort from Spitzer. Zakharova also was charged with forgery in an unrelated case in which police said she used a 67-year-old Bloomfield, NJ, man's information and signed a lease agreement that ended up costing him $18,000. An attorney for Spitzer said Tuesday his client will cooperate with the investigation "if called upon to do so." (More Eliot Spitzer stories.)

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