Where Are Bad Vegan Anthony Strangis and Sarma Melngailis Now?

Bag Vegan’s Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis have put their past behind them and are trying to live a new life. Sarma Melngailis currently lives in New York and runs a blog, while Anthony Strangis is working a legit job though his location is unknown.

Despite their best efforts, the story of the duo, which has now been immortalized in the Netflix series, Bad Vegan, is one that will continue to fascinate true crime enthusiasts and the general public at large.

What is Bad Vegan About?

Bad Vegan is a Netflix true crime docu-series that premiered on the 16th of March 2022. It was directed by Chris Smith and has four episodes which are 44 to 61 minutes long each. The full title is Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. Bad Vegan chronicles the fall from grace of Sarma Melngailis, a popular New York chef who once ran two thriving vegan eating establishments.

Sarma once robbed shoulders with billionaires and Hollywood celebrities alike, but her business operations shut down after she milked more than a million dollars from it under the influence of her con artist of an ex-husband named Anthony Strangis.

The docu-series was lapped up by fans and received good reviews from critics. It takes some creative liberties, though. The ending scenes indicate that Melngailis is still in touch with Strangis, but nothing could be further from the truth in real life.

Is Bad Vegan a True Story?

Bad Vegan is based on the true life story of celebrity chef Sarma Melngailis and her con artist ex-husband, Anthony Strangis. Sarma Melngailis was a revered chef, cookbook author, and businesswoman. She promoted the vegan lifestyle, and so in the 2000s, she set up various vegan eating establishments in New York, including Pure Food and Wine and One Lucky Duck.

Her fine dining restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, received good reviews from renowned publications and was patronized by the likes of Bill Clinton, Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen, and Alec Baldwin. Given all this, Sarma Melngailis became quite respected and a celebrity in New York circles.

Things, however, fell apart after she became involved with a con man named Anthony Strangis in 2011, and they wed in 2012. He influenced her to take money away from her business, and he used much of it for gambling.

At some point, Sarma Melngailis couldn’t meet up her financial obligations to her investors, employees, and the government, i.e., taxes. She even owed rent to her landlord. Her restaurants were thus shut down permanently in mid-2015, and she and Strangis were charged with several crimes.

How Old Is Sarma Melngailis Now?

Sarma Melngailis is currently 51 years old. She was born on the 10th of September 1972 and grew up in Massachusetts. Sarma is the daughter of a former MIT physicist named John Melngailis and a professional chef, Alyson.

She attended prestigious institutions such as Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania and received degrees in arts and economics. She spent some time working in the finance sector but, by the late 90s, went to study at a culinary institute.

With the knowledge gathered, Sarma Melngailis dived into the food industry and set up multiple vegan restaurants. Her earlier attempts tanked, but she later succeeded with establishments such as Pure Food and Wine, which she and her former boyfriend, Matthew Kenney, co-founded in 2004.

A Look at Anthony Strangis’ Backstory

While Sarma’s background story is quite straightforward, the same cannot be said of her con artist ex-husband named Anthony Strangis, who used the fake name Shane Fox during their relationship. Strangis was born around 1981 and grew up in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. His parents divorced when he was quite young, and he was largely raised by his father.

According to his half-brother named John, Anthony Strangis desired to live a flashy lifestyle from his teenage years but didn’t want to put in the work to achieve that. This inevitably led to a life of crime and conning people. He was once convicted of selling his father’s jaguar as well as impersonating a police officer.

By 2003, while living in Florida, he got married to a woman named Stacy. He lied to her that he was a former Navy Seal and later absconded with and pawned her jewelry and other valuable items when their son was eight months old.

How Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis Met and Got Married

Anthony Strangis and Sarma Melngailis met via Twitter and began dating in 2011. They then got married on the 5th of December 2012. In the course of their union, Anthony mesmerized Sarma with claims that he was a black ops agent for the government and that they were working on some important cosmic project.

He claimed that he would give immortality to her beloved dog named Leon and enable her to stay young forever. He also made her other grandiose promises, including access to unlimited funds to grow her brand all over the world and do world-changing things like eliminating factory farming.

Given all these claims, Sarma Melngailis gave her husband a free hand with regard to her business. Up until that point, she had run her businesses in a meticulous manner and was utilizing income generated to pay her staff, pay taxes and remit something back to shareholders.

However, once her ex-husband came on board, he influenced her into withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company’s accounts into her personal accounts for further withdrawals.

Sometimes, Anthony would tell Sarma’s staff to meet him with the cash realized from sales and deposit it into his personal accounts. He and Sarma spent some of the money traveling and living an expensive lifestyle, but he blew the majority of it gambling at various casinos.

Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis
Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis during their time together Image Source

The Downfall of the Couple

By 2014, Sarma Melngailis found it difficult to pay her staff on several occasions, and in January 2015, her restaurants were shut down. She and Strangis managed to find some money, about $844,000, and the restaurants re-opened. They operated it for about five months before it shut down permanently as they just couldn’t meet up with their obligations.

Overall, Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis withdrew about $1.6 million to $2 million from Sarma’s restaurant. The restaurant owed about $400,000 in taxes and couldn’t pay investors or make rent. Such a dire financial situation, as well as reports by the individuals affected, got the cops involved, and they issued arrest warrants for Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis.

The couple, on getting news of the arrest warrant, fled New York around July/August 2015. They remained on the run for 10 months until they were apprehended by the authorities on the 12th of May 2016 in the Tennessee town of Sevierville, where they were staying at an inn. The authorities were tipped off when Strangis ordered Domino’s Pizza with his real name. He and Sarma were then flown back to New York to answer for their crimes.

What Happened To Sarma Melngailis?

Sarma Melngailis was charged with several crimes by the authorities, including criminal tax fraud and scheming to defraud investors, and she agreed to a plea deal. Under the terms of the deal, Sarma pled guilty to stealing more than $2 million from her investors as well as other charges. In return, she received a much-reduced sentence.

Sarma had been looking at a 15-year prison term, but she was only jailed for about four months. She spent her four months jail term at Rikers Island Prison. She wanted to carry on with her vegan diet while incarcerated but was informed that it was not possible.

She had to content herself with fares such as peanut butter sandwiches and fruits such as cucumber, apples, and bananas. She also used that opportunity to teach the other inmates about veganism and healthy eating.

Sarma Melngailis has since revealed that she is ultimately grateful for the time she spent at Rikers as she left with a heart more expanded and more aware of how connected we all are.

Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis
The ex-couple in prison garb Image Source

What Happened To Anthony Strangis?

Anthony Strangis was also charged with several crimes, and it is believed that he reached his own plea deal with the authorities. He pled guilty to four counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree. He was sentenced to one to three years in prison as well as five years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $840,000 to investors whom he had swindled.

Anthony Strangis spent a year and three days at Rikers Island Prison and was released in May 2017. He kept his nose out of trouble and was able to avoid returning to jail during his time on probation. Meanwhile, he and Sarma continue to trade blame over who was responsible for the whole debacle.

His lawyers’ argument was that Sarma was the owner of the restaurant and the person who ran it so badly that it ended up where it did. On the other hand, Sarma’s lawyers point out that Anthony exercised such coercive control over her. They described him as a complete maniac and state that their client is a victim who was badly abused and controlled by a lifelong predator and fraudster.

Where Is Sarma Melngailis Today?

Sarma Melngailis currently lives in New York and is trying to put the pieces of her life together. She is quite active on social media platforms such as Instagram and uses it to share pictures of herself and her beloved dog named Leon. She also shares her thoughts on the whole debacle that went down with Anthony Strangis and her time in prison.

Meanwhile, upon leaving jail, Sarma Melngailis filed for divorce from Strangis in May 2018, and it was finalized shortly. She has made it known that she has no intention of having anything to do with him ever again. She has also made it known that she doesn’t desire to get married ever again or even be in any relationship.

What Is Sarma Melngailis Doing Now?

Sarma Melngailis is presently working on her memoir. It focuses on her wild experience with Anthony Strangis and the downfall of her high-end raw vegan restaurant. She hopes to paint a more accurate picture of what happened between them as she believes that the Netflix series, Bad Vegan, did not do the story justice.

Melngailis is also a blogger. She pens posts about her debacle with Anthony Strangis, and she has been quite forthcoming. She has previously revealed that it was better to have a terminal disease than to have her whole life fall apart with a mountain of debt now crushing her.

Also, in March 2022, Sarma Melngailis published a letter that she had written to Strangis. She stated that she had basically lost everything, including her brand, home, restaurant, customers, employees, clothes, files, photos, etc. Also gone were her goodwill, future, promise, and assets with all replaced by massive debt. She accepted that she was at fault for letting Strangis into her life but made it clear that he bore responsibility for all that she had lost.

Sarma Melngailis also revealed as far back as 2019 that she would like to reopen her vegan restaurant in the same place it was if she got a magical opportunity to do so. That use of the word magic shows how difficult that dream is as she has to take care of her mounting debts first before she can engage in any business venture.

Where Is Anthony Strangis Now?

While Sarma Melngailis remains active on social media and has even participated in the making of the Netflix docu–series Bad Vegan, it is a different ball game for her ex-husband. Anthony Strangis has avoided the spotlight since he left jail. He only releases sporadic statements through his lawyers when need be.

This makes it difficult to know where he is presently. But He is living somewhere in the United States. He is using his real name and is working a normal job so that he can begin making a dent in the $844 000 he owes in restitution fees. According to Strangis’ lawyer, he owned up to his crime, pled guilty, did his time, and is now putting the whole thing behind him.

What Is Sarma Melngailis Net Worth Compared To Anthony Strangis’ Net Worth Today?

Both Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis have net worths that are in the negative. This is a result of the debts they have to pay back for the money that they swindled. Strangis was ordered to pay $844,000 in restitution to investors, therefore, much of the money he makes will go towards that. This will leave him with little for upkeep and even less for building any kind of assets.

Melngailis, on her own part, owes about $2 million in debt, while some sources say it is as high as $6 million. This means that her net worth is also in the negative as well. This is quite sad, as she was worth about $1.5 million before her downfall.

Meanwhile, she is working to pay her debts. She was paid a reasonable amount of money for her involvement in the Bad Vegan docu-series, providing pictures and other materials. She immediately used the whole money to pay some of the employees she owes, as this is part of her debt that she is most sad about.


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