A Russian national and suspected sex worker was indicted on Tuesday for allegedly extorting more than $400,000 from Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced former New York governor who resigned his position because of a prostitution scandal.
Svetlana Travis Zakharova, 26, an alleged prostitute, blackmailed Spitzer and used another man’s personal information to rent apartments without his permission, Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said.
Between March 12, 2014, and her arrest on Oct. 11, Zakharova obtained nearly $400,000 from Spitzer, who resigned as governor in 2008, threatening to tell his wife and the media intimate details of their encounters unless he paid.
In 2014, Zakharova attempted to extort $5,000 from the other man, the D.A.'s office said.
“This is one of those crimes; it’s an odd crime,” Justice Charles Solomon said during the proceeding, New York Post reported. “It’s either probation or state prison, no in between. I’m not sure probation is her outcome.”
Solomon granted prosecutor Thomas Boyle’s request for $1 million bail for “16 felonies spanning two years” resulting in deposits to Russian banks.
Boyle added that Zakharova "pays like clockwork for advertisements on Backpage.com," a known webpage for prostitution solicitation, the New York Daily News reported.
Zakharova was arrested in October after returning to the United States from Russia. Since the accused surrendered her passport, her attorney argued that she is no longer a flight risk.
“One million dollars with no criminal record strikes me as very unfair for her,” defense attorney Christopher Wright said, according to the Post. “She’s not here for a violent crime. Quite frankly, I don’t think anything more than $50,000 is something she can make.”
Zakharova was indicted on a slate of charges, including grand larceny, forgery and falsifying business records. She is also being investigated for prostitution, identity theft and money laundering.
"She's never been to jail in her entire life, and this is a very upsetting and traumatic experience for this young woman to be in Rikers Island," Wright said, ABC7 reported. "It's a terrible place for her to be, so we'd like to see it resolved as quickly as possible so she can move on with her life."
Zakharova covered her face and cried throughout the hearing, according to reports.
“This defendant allegedly enriched herself by a pattern of thievery and deception,” Clark said. “These crimes will not be tolerated.”
Zakharova is due back in court on Dec. 6. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.