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Russian Woman Who Said Eliot Spitzer Attacked Her is Charged With Extortion

By Murray Weiss | October 11, 2016 4:47pm | Updated on October 11, 2016 5:39pm
 Svetlana Travis was evicted from an Upper East Side apartment she rented because it was being used as a brothel, court papers say.
Svetlana Travis was evicted from an Upper East Side apartment she rented because it was being used as a brothel, court papers say.
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MANHATTAN — The Russian woman who accused ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer of choking her at the Plaza Hotel and shook him down for $100,000 before heading back home to Moscow has been arrested by the NYPD, sources told DNAinfo New York.

Svetlana Travis, 26, was picked up reentering the country at JFK Airport. She was charged with extorting Spitzer, and was also accused of fleecing New Jersey businessman Paul Nippes out of $18,000 in a separate scam in which she falsely used his identity to secure leases on Manhattan apartments that she allegedly turned into brothels, sources said.

DNAinfo New York had exclusively reported on the brothels back in February.

READ MORE: Spitzer's Gal Pal Was Evicted From Apartment Used as Brothel: Court Docs

The NYPD had Travis “flagged” on federal fly lists in the event she returned to the United States, and her name popped when she purchased a ticket to fly to California recently on undisclosed business that included a connecting flight through New York.

She was hit with grand larceny and forgery charges when at the airport and taken into custody, authorities said.

Travis returned to Russia last February after she called police to the Plaza Hotel, where she claimed Spitzer attacked her.

Spitzer greeted responding police officers at the hotel room door and told them everything was fine. But Travis was taken to the hospital after saying Spitzer choked her and threw her around and that she cut her wrist in a botched suicide attempt.

Later, she began to provide authorities with conflicting accounts, stopped cooperating and eventually took off for her native homeland.

Spitzer acknowledged he knew Travis, but he denied harming her and claimed that he was an extortion victim.

Sources say he had given Travis at least $100,000 before the Plaza incident.

In addition to the Spitzer scandal, DNAinfo found that Travis also left a trail of landlord-tenant legal squabbles in which she was accused of using Nippes's name and his personal information to help secure Manhattan apartments used as brothels.

At the time, Nippes told DNAinfo that he knew Travis back in 2014 (he declined to say how), but said she used his name without his permission on the leases, leaving him with debts and legal bills.

He eventually also filed a complaint with the NYPD.

Travis was arraigned late Tuesday and ordered held on $1 million bail in The Bronx, where the case was transferred after Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. recused himself because of his past ties to Spitzer.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Boyle said in court that it was a “systematic and protracted scheme over two years" to extort "close to 400,000" from ex-governor.  

Spitzer, 57, is divorced from his wife, Silda, and was forced to resign his governorship after being caught patronizing prostitutes nearly a decade ago.