By Alex Dobuzinskis

By Alex Dobuzinskis


(Reuters) - A woman appeared in court on Tuesday to face extortion charges in a scheme that brought her nearly $400,000 in payments from former New York state Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in a 2008 prostitution scandal, prosecutors said.


Svetlana Zakharova, 26, pleaded not guilty during her court appearance in Manhattan, the New York Daily News reported.


She is accused of obtaining the money between March 2014 and her arrest last month by threatening to reveal her relationship with Spitzer and expose intimate details to his wife and the public, the District Attorney's Office for the Bronx said in a statement.


Zakharova, a Russian national, has been indicted on several criminal counts including grand larceny, attempted grand larceny and forgery, prosecutors said.


A New York City judge at Zakharova's court appearance on Tuesday ordered that her bail remain at $1 million, the statement said.

Zakharova's attorney could not be reached for comment late on Tuesday.

She previously accused Spitzer of choking and pushing her in New York City's Plaza Hotel in February. But no charges were filed against Spitzer in the incident and his attorney denied that the former New York state governor assaulted her.

Spitzer, as a Democrat, was a rising star in national politics when he resigned the governorship in 2008 amid a prostitution scandal. In 2013, he staged an attempt at a political comeback when he ran for New York City comptroller, but he lost in a primary election that year.

Zakharova tried to extort $5,000 from a second man by also threatening to expose their relationship, prosecutors said in a statement.

She remained in jail on Tuesday and is due back in court on Dec. 6.

Zakharova faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against her, prosecutors said in the statement.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)