Sarma Melngailis has revealed that she has finally paid her offended former employees with money from her new Netflix show, “Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.” But she has a few complaints about what she said the docu series is wrong.
Wednesday Melngailis wrote on her website that “Bad Vegan’s ending is eerie misleading; I am not in contact with Anthony Strangis. He added: “I didn’t want marry him, and that part of the story was loosely condensed.
The former restaurateur behind the celebrity hot spot Pure Food and Wine in Manhattan tells the story of her fall into the series, which premiered on Wednesday.
She became a fugitive after stealing nearly $ 2 million from investors and staff and ran away with her employee-turned-husband Strangis. But she has now paid them.
“It is standard practice – not to mention journalistic integrity – that subjects are not paid for participation in documentaries, at least not to reputable ones,” wrote Melngailis, 49.
He added: “In my case, however, and at my insistence, the producers made an exception so that I could pay the full amount owed to my former employees, amounts accrued after my disappearance in 2015.”
“Of all the damage and many debts resulting from my fall, this part weighed the most,” added Melngailis, who has been nicknamed the “vegan Bernie Madoff”.
Now living with her rescue dog Leon in Harlem, Melngailis opens up about how she met Strangis – who then went by the name of Shane Fox – when she started tweeting with her close friend Alec Baldwin.
Baldwin puts his wife Hilaria on Pure and Melngailis wrote in a 2010 blog post that she was in love with the actor, but didn’t want a relationship.
Strangis, who was hired as a manager at Pure in 2013, had such a hold on Melngailis, she said, that she believed she could make her beloved dog Leon immortal if she passed her tests and joined her secret society.
The “tests” usually required her to transfer any required amount of money to him, leaving her unable to pay her bills, her investors, and even her restaurant staff.
Melngailis and Stangis went missing after she failed to pay multiple times in 2014 and 2015. The two were arrested in May 2016 after ordering a non-vegan Domino pizza in the Tennessee motel room where they were hiding.
Melngailis pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated theft, criminal tax fraud and a plan to defraud investors in exchange for five years of probation and four months in prison, which she served at Rikers in the summer of 2017.
Strangis pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated fourth-degree theft and was sentenced to one year in prison and five years probation, as well as having to pay $ 840,000 in restitution to investors. No one knows where he is now.
He claims other parts of his story have been inaccurate, saying, “I didn’t ‘run away’ in 2015 … nor was I ‘on the run’, at least not to my knowledge. I didn’t go voluntarily. I didn’t know what funds Anthony had in at that time and I no longer had access to my electronic devices and my email / text accounts. I can already hear the chorus of trolls Yeah, for sure! but most of what I say is verifiable.
Melngailis went on to say that “Bad Vegan” portrays his “very close” bond with his former staff, adding that “intentionally hurting him is almost the last thing I would have done. The good people who had worked at the time had reason to be devastated and angry. It was as if I had abandoned them, which in fact I did. “
He added: “I didn’t have a real gun to my head, so obviously I had a choice. I understand. However, the answer that I must be crazy and / or stupid is easy and reductive. I’m not stupid and I’m not crazy. I am humiliated and ashamed of all the damage caused, but I have worked to rebuild a solid foundation of self-confidence and self-awareness ”.
Although Melngailis said she was “relieved once the payment [to her employees] it went through, “he continued,” but this was only a small part of what remains exceptional … I want to be clear that I will continue to work to address everything, one way or another, in the end. “