If you binged Inventing Anna or the Tinder Swindler, we think it a safe bet Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. will be the next Netflix series devoured on your screen. A four-part true crime documentary, it recounts the story of Sarma Melngailis, a vegan restauranteur whose personal and professional lives turned after meeting a man online.
Who is Sarma Melngailis?
Melngailis’ popular Manhattan restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, was once a hotspot for the Hollywood elite including Anne Hathaway, Rooney Mara, Giselle and Tom Brady. She was the embodiment of the raw vegan lifestyle, before she faced allegations of fraud, theft and grand larceny. She met her husband Anthony Strangis in 2011, and from this point her life changed for good.
The pair met on Twitter yet unknown to Melngailis, Strangis had a torrid past of failed relationships, a gambling addiction and faced allegations of manipulation and theft. It has been alleged Strangis offered the restauranteur money to become independent of her investors and convinced her she would become ‘empowered.’
The empowerment mentioned? Her dog would become immortal, an unnamed sibling would be ‘watching them’ and she would 'pass tests' to eventually come into money and heightened emotional gains. A person blinded by love, Melngailis transferred more than $1.5 million from business accounts to her personal accounts and Strangis spent more than $1 million of her business funds at casinos. At this time, her employees were not being paid.
Melngailis and Strangis were accused by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for stealing almost $2 million in total from investors and employees. The pair then went on the run.
How was Sarma Melngailis caught?
The pair were arrested in Tennessee Mary 2016 on a fugitive-from-justice warrant, allegedly having spend 40 days in hiding at the location before a Domino’s Pizza order enabled them to be tracked. In 2017, Melngailis pleaded guilty to “charges of grand larceny, criminal tax fraud and a scheme to defraud in exchange for five years’ probation and a split six-month sentence.”
Melngailis then served four months prison, and claimed she was a victim of coercive control at the hands of Strangis. Now living in New York with her dog Leon, she filed for divorce from Strangis in May 2018. And thus, Bad Vegan follows her story in what is set to be a gripping documentary.
Where can I watch Bad Vegan in Australia?
If the chaos of the above has piqued your interest, you’ll be pleased to know Bad Vegan is currently streaming on Netflix and waiting for you to devour it.