Raw-Food Celeb Caught After Ordering Domino’s Pizza
Raw food restaurateur, author, owner of “One Lucky Duck” ,and fugitive- wanted for a scheme to defraud, grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, and violation of labor law- Sarma Melngailis, has finally been arrested. Police found her after she and her husband ordered a pizza from Dominos, while on the run in a hotel in Sevierville, Tenn.
Her restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, opened in 2004 in Gramercy and was one of the city’s first raw food restaurants. It had a huge celebrity following too, Woody Harrelson had a house account and Alec Baldwin met his wife, Hilaria there. However, by the beginning of 2015 something had changed and staff were not being paid but no one could reach Melngailis.
Here are her workers demanding to be paid:
Sarma in happier times:
After staging walk-out and protests, they eventually unionized and sued her for back wages. One of her restaurants investors also filed suit, claiming she had taken $280,000 from the restaurants account.
Sarma on Carol Alt’s show on FOX in happier times:
If found guilty she and her husband, Anthony Strangis, face up to 15 years in prison. They have been charged with stealing nearly $800,000 from four different investors, not paying employees more than $40,000, and avoiding more than $400,000 in sales tax.
From the NY Post:
A 24-count indictment against Melngailis and husband Anthony Strangis, 35, claims she transferred nearly $1.6 million from the businesses to her personal bank account, of which her husband blew roughly $1 million at Foxwoods casino and another $200,000 at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
Strangis dropped another $80,000 on Rolex and other pricey watches and used more than $70,000 on trips across Europe, the indictment says.
They used another $10,000 to pay for Uber car rides.”
She initially told her employees and investors that she had plans to expand and then would negotiate to sell the company to an investor. Then, last February, she approached four investors for cash to restart the business. As former customers of Pure Food and Wine, and fans of the restaurant, they helped her out. She spent some of the money on bills and paid employees, but the majority of the cash went to her personal account and to casinos.
She has used and betrayed many people, it’s so sad. I have spoken to Sarma online before, have eaten at her restaurant, and own her raw food cookbook. It’s all very tragic.
We will keep you updated.