Netflix’s ‘Bad Vegan’: What happened to Anthony Strangis and Sarma Melngailis? Where are they now?
Sarma Melngailis revealed she was paid for the documentary, while Strangis’ whereabouts are unknown
Netflix’s latest true-crime documentary, “Bad Vegan,” involves a celebrity vegan restaurateur’s empire and hopes of immortality.
The story follows Sarma Melngailis, the owner of a restaurant in New York City called Pure Food and Wine. The likes of Alec Baldwin, Owen Wilson and Bill Clinton visited the restaurant and it became a celebrity hot spot.
What happened in ‘Bad Vegan’?
Melngailis fell in love with a man who went by the name Anthony Strangis, although his real name is Shane Fox. They got married soon after in 2012. He made Melngailis believe that she had to pass “tests” in order to get on the “righteous” path, and that once she passed the hurdles, all her dreams would come true and her and her dog would live on forever.
After they were married, Melngailis began funneling the money from the restaurant business to Anthony, who said that if she didn’t pass the tests, something bad would happen to them.
According to The Tab, Strangis spent close to $1 million at Foxwoods Resort Casino, over $200,000 at Mohegan Sun Resort Casino, over $80,000 on watches, $70,000 on hotels and $10,000 on car rides, among other expenses.
The new couple ended up embezzling close to $2 million from employees and investors before they disappeared for a year. In 2016, authorities caught them in Tennessee when they ordered a nonvegan Domino’s pizza.
Where is Anthony Strangis now?
Melngailis and Strangis were charged with defrauding investors, failing to pay over $400,000 in taxes and stiffing employees on wages, according to Women’s Health Magazine.
Strangis was able to reach a plea deal — five years of probation and $840,000 in restitution — though he spent a year in jail because he couldn’t pay for his own bail before the court date.
Not much is known about his current whereabouts. He is still serving his probation period in Massachusetts, his home state.
Strangis declined to comment in the Netflix docuseries.
What happened to Sarma Melngailis?
Melngailis described the ordeal as “disturbing, tragic, mind-bending, and excruciating,” in a personal blog.
“In 2015, I disappeared for nearly a year, which was also excruciating, and surreal. One day I was arrested, which is what finally brought me back home — or to the city that is my home,” she said. Melngailis claimed she was manipulated and abused by Strangis, according to Today.com.
“It was only at this point that I found out it was all gone, and in fact I no longer had a home,” she said. “I was charged with a bunch of crimes and eventually, unable to withstand a lengthy and costly trial, I stood and pled guilty to those crimes and then spent four months — the summer of 2017 — at NYC’s Rikers Island jail.”
She filed for divorce in 2018, according to the New York Daily News.
Did Sarma Melngailis get paid for the documentary?
After Netflix’s documentary came out, Melngailis revealed she was paid to appear in the series.
“It’s standard practice — to say nothing of journalistic integrity — that subjects do not get paid for participation in documentaries, at least not the reputable ones,” Melngailis wrote in her blog.
“In my case, however, and at my insistence, the producers made an exception so that I could pay the total amount my former employees were owed — amounts that accrued after my disappearance in 2015,” she continued. “Of all the harm and the many debts resulting from my downfall, this portion weighed heaviest.”