Thursday Oct 19, 2023

Episode 24: How Sarma Melngailis, Queen of Vegan Cuisine, Became a Runaway Tax Fugitive Part II

Show Notes: Tax Crime Junkies Episode - "The Vegan Vixen and the Vegas Vanishing Act" (Part 2 - Continuation)

In the thrilling conclusion of our episode on Sarma Melngailis, we delve even deeper into the shocking aftermath of her fall from grace and the complex web of deceit spun by her husband, Anthony Strangis.

The Legal Consequences:

  • Sarma and Anthony faced serious charges, including grand larceny, tax fraud, and labor violations, with a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years if convicted.
  • Sarma was offered a plea deal that would entail up to three years in prison if she pleaded guilty to the top charge of second-degree grand larceny.
  • Anthony Strangis received a one to three-year prison sentence but was released after serving a year and three days. He was ordered to pay back the funds to investors and serve five years of probation.

A Troubled Relationship:

  • During Sarma's trial, it was revealed that she had an affair with her high-profile defense attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, who previously represented El Chapo.
  • The affair spanned from February 2017 to May 2018, and X-rated messages exchanged during this time were later acquired by the New York Post.

Sarma's Path to Redemption:

  • Sarma Melngailis eventually pleaded guilty to grand larceny, tax fraud, and conspiring to defraud, admitting to stealing $1 million from her shuttered restaurant, Pure Food and Wine.
  • She received five years of probation following four months of incarceration on Rikers Island.
  • Sarma has been diligently working to pay off her debts, including using the earnings from selling the rights to her story in the Netflix documentary "Bad Vegan" to pay her former employees.

A Glimpse into Sarma's Life Today:

  • Sarma filed for divorce from Anthony Strangis in May 2018 and launched a personal website, "Sarma Raw," where she shares her story.
  • As of January 2019, she was living in Harlem with her dog Leon, enjoying a quieter life.
  • She expressed her desire to reopen her vegan restaurant if given the opportunity, as she still believes New York would welcome her back.

Sarma's Comeback Attempt:

  • In a surprising twist, Sarma is reportedly making a sensational comeback attempt by trying to reopen her former restaurant, Pure Food and Wine.
  • She has been considering various ways to repair the damage caused by her past actions and debts.


  • Sarma's story is one of redemption, resilience, and the pursuit of a second chance in the culinary world.
  • We invite you to share your thoughts on Sarma's journey and whether you believe she should make a comeback. Let us know in the comments.

Join us again next week as we continue our mission to uncover the loopholes and close them for good in the world of tax crime. Remember, every crime leaves a trail that leads to the truth!


Audio Credit: Bad Vegan, Netflix

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