If the headline above sounds bizarre, that's because the story of vegan restaurateur Sarma Melngailis is even more bizarre.
You might recall that earlier this year, Melngailis—who owned New York City's vegan raw-foods restaurant Pure Food & Wine, where she served unexpectedly awesome raw lasagnas and famous Master Cleanse Tinis to regulars like Alec Baldwin—was arrested for violating labor laws and committing fraud, along with her then-husband, the pricelessly-named Anthony Strangis.
The pair pulled a Bonnie and Clyde, escaping and going fugitive, but got caught when they ordered a Domino's pizza to their hotel room. Now, in yet another plot twist, Melngailis claimed Strangis brainwashed her. As Vanity Fair reports:
"A source close to Melngailis describes a scenario in which Strangis resorted to cult-like techniques, including gaslighting, sleep deprivation, and sexual humiliation, to control her. (Strangis, through his court-appointed attorney, Samuel Karliner, denied all these allegations but did not elaborate on his denials in responding to 80 questions from Vanity Fair.)" The brainwashing allegedly also involved convincing her "that her dog can live forever."
Is the supposed brainwashing what caused the clean-living businesswoman to defraud her investors and her staff to the tune of nearly $1 millon? The story is unfolding...
Meanwhile, according to Vanity Fair, Melngailis is attempting to set the record straight regarding the pizza that got her arrested: "Actually, the non-raw, non-vegan cheesy pie (plus a side of chicken wings) was only for the 300-plus-pound Strangis, who placed the order using his real name, thus leading authorities to their hotel," VF reports. Melngailis herself had been "subsisting on vegan bowls from a nearby Chipotle."
Unfortunately, her allegiance to a dairy-and-meat-free diet won't be enough to save her from the spate of charges, which now include grand larceny, labor law violations and tax fraud. Not to mention that the allegations point to "conduct unbecoming a vegan," says one of her investors, as quoted in that article.
Surely more twists in this story are on the way—and, with any luck, a feature film and an extremely binge-worthy miniseries. Do stay tuned.
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