The latest Netflix documentary to take over cultural conversations is Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. The four-part docuseries tells the tale of vegan restaurateur Sarma Melngailis and how she illegally transfered money to her then-husband Anthony Strangis to make her dog Leon immortal. No, we're not kidding.
The chronicled story takes place between 2012 and 2014 so people can’t stop wondering where Sarma is now.
Let's start from the beginning. A note: Although we won’t be revealing too many details about the plot, expect spoilers about Bad Vegan ahead.
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WHAT'S BAD VEGAN ABOUT?
Sarma opened high-end restaurant Pure Food and Wine alongside chef Matthew Kenney and investor Jeffrey Chodorow in New York City back in 2004. At the time, Sarma and Matthew were dating. A year later, in 2005, Matthew left the restaurant and the couple broke up. Sarma then met one Shane Fox via Twitter.
As the documentary shows, Shane was actually a convicted criminal and con artist by the name of Anthony Strangis. The two kept in contact and Anthony continued asking Sarma for money, eventually convincing her that he would actually be able to make Sarma's pitbull dog Leon immortal.
Given the large amount of funds that Anthony would ask her for, Sarma eventually started using money from the restaurant to meet his demands. The con man was able to take control of Sarma’s business and steal millions of dollars from her.
Both Anthony and Sarma were eventually indicted, accused of a slew of criminal acts, including the illegal transfer of over $1.5 million from business accounts into personal ones.
Pure Food and Wine and sister restaurant One Lucky Duck were forced to close and a warrant was issued for the couple's arrest soon thereafter.
After escaping authorities for ten months, the pair—who got married in 2012—was arrested in Tennessee in May 2016. Almost ironically, they were found after Anthony ordered a Domino's Pizza delivery to his hotel room under his real name.
In May 2017, Sarma took a plea deal by admitting guilt to stealing more than $200,000 from an investor, plus criminal tax fraud charges and defrauding ones. Anthony also took a plea deal.
After serving four months at Rikers Island and receiving five years' probably, Sarma was released from prison in October of 2017 and filed for divorce from Anthony in May 2018. Almost a year later, it was revealed that she had an affair with her defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, who was also married at the time.
WHERE IS SARMA MELNGAILIS NOW?
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Today, Sarma lives with her dog Leon outside of New York. She is reportedly working on a memoir while also recording a podcast, which she teased on Instagram just three weeks ago.
"My set up on floor in quietest corner I could find while away from home to do one podcast, the only one I felt made sense for now," she wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of herself in front of a microphone and a computer with headphones on.
No word yet on when or where the podcast will be released, but we'll be sure to listen.
Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.
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