Eliot Spitzer Says Woman Blackmailed Him

     MANHATTAN (CN) — In a lawsuit seeking $1 in damages, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer accuses a Russian woman of a long campaign of blackmail leading up to a fabricated claim of sexual assault this past February.
     Spitzer had only been in office a few months before The New York Times outed him as “Client 9” of the high-end prostitution service Emperors Club VIP, sinking his short-lived tenure as the Empire State’s governor.
     On Friday, the paper broke the news of Spitzer’s new claim against Svetlana Zakharova, the governor’s former girlfriend who accused him of choking her inside a $1,000-a-night suite of the storied Plaza Hotel next to Central Park. Spitzer claims that Zakharova flew into a rage that night after he told her that he wanted to cut off all ties and stop paying her.
     Responding to a 911 call, police showed up to find Zakharova had cut her wrist, and Spitzer answering at the door, the New York Post reported at the time.
     “Everything’s fine,” Spitzer reportedly told police. “There’s no problem.” Zakharova, who is also known as Lana Travis, has since recanted those allegations after hopping aboard a flight bound for Moscow.
     When she landed, Zakharova fired off an email apologizing for the “fake” report, Spitzer says.
     “I just read the news, I’m so sorry,” the email began, according to the lawsuit. “I wish this night never happened, I hope no one belives [sic] in this.”
     In the email, Zakharova assured Spitzer that she would tell police that she had attempted suicide and the former governor tried to save her, according to the lawsuit.
     Though dated Friday, Spitzer’s court papers appear to have hit the public database on Monday morning, and they do not yet include the full complaint.
     But the five-page summons with notice describes Zakharova threatening Spitzer — in emails, voicemails and recorded phone calls — even after the February incident.
     Perceiving “new leverage” over Spitzer, Zakharova demanded that the former governor turn over money to her or she would “ruin his life,” “make up bullshit about him,” and contact his children, according to the lawsuit.
     “In a number of conversations and emails, she demanded payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars, trips to Paris, and other valuable property,” Spitzer says in the lawsuit. “She bombarded him with threatening emails and voicemails, which have been retained, stating that she would make up charges about the incident in the Plaza and file a police report. She also threatened to expose an audio recording she made of Mr. Spitzer in which, in response to her threat to approach his children, he became enraged and responded with loud, strong and direct language.”
     Spitzer says that Zakharova did not disguise her motives.
     “In one email, Zakharova stated that ‘for 3 years I had to blackmail you,’ and in a voice message acknowledged that the only reason Mr. Spitzer ever sent her money was because she blackmailed him,” the lawsuit says. “In other emails and messages Ms. Zakharova threatened to contact his family, to give media interviews, fabricate false statements about Mr. Spitzer, and repeatedly stated that she would destroy Mr. Spitzer’s life unless he gives her what she wants. There was no ambiguity: by her own words Ms. Zakharova sought to defraud and extort money from Mr. Spitzer.”
     Spitzer is represented by Adam Kaufmann from the Manhattan-based law firm Lewis Baach. He seeks $1 “plus costs and disbursements.”

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