Netflix’s ‘Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.’ is a four-part docuseries that charts how restaurateur Sarma Melngailis met Anthony Strangis in 2011 and the rather strange string of events that occurred after that. The owner of a successful restaurant and related businesses was eventually accused of stealing from investors, funneling the money to Anthony instead. So, if you’re curious to know more about what happened leading up to and during the aftermath of the arrest, we’ve got you covered.
What Happened to Anthony Strangis?
Anthony was raised in Brockton, Massachusetts, and his parents separated when he was young. Before meeting Sarma, he had a checkered past that the authorities later learned about. Apart from an arrest record in Florida and having been in jail for impersonating a police officer, Anthony had allegedly abandoned his first wife, Stacy Avery, and their eight-month-old son. During their short marriage, he claimed to have inherited $5 million from an aunt. Before taking off, Stacy stated that Anthony pawned her jewelry as well.
In 2011, Sarma came across someone named Shane Fox on Twitter. He had been corresponding with Alec Baldwin, the actor and a friend of Sarma’s, on the microblogging site. Soon, the two hit it off, and they began a relationship, meeting in person in November 2011. At the time, Anthony allegedly promised to give her money to pay off her investors and clear her debts, but that never materialized. A little over a year after they first met in person, the two married despite some differences.
However, things slowly began to change. Anthony would talk about a mysterious brother who was adept in surveillance and constantly watched their moves. At one point, he told Sarma that her computer had been hacked, and she had to get in touch with his tech expert associate, Will Richards, and give him all of her passwords. In reality, Will didn’t exist; it was reportedly Anthony who ended up having access to all of Sarma’s accounts.
Furthermore, Anthony had also borrowed money from Sarma on several occasions. In another bizarre claim, he stated that this was part of a series of “cosmic” tests that he had to undergo a few years prior as well. Sarma later recollected, “He convinced me I’d be empowered in ways I couldn’t imagine. I would have access to unlimited resources so that I could grow my brand all over the world, make the documentary I always wanted to make — the one that would finally change people’s ways and help eradicate factory farming. Basically, I could do all the world-changing things I’d been quietly dreaming about. I could help whoever I want and stay young forever doing it.”
The authorities later learned that Sarma had transferred around $1.6 million from her business to her personal account, most of which Anthony gambled away in casinos. Back at Sarma’s restaurant, he was known as Shane to the employees, and when she wasn’t in town, he behaved like the boss. In August 2014, he falsely claimed that he would buy Sarma’s company “on paper.” At one point, Sarma had told investors that she was planning to sell the business to a man named Michael Caledonia, who turned out to be Anthony himself.
Where is Anthony Strangis Now?
Ultimately, Sarma and Anthony were arrested at a hotel in Sevierville, Tennessee, in May 2016. The authorities tracked them to that location after Anthony ordered a pizza under his real name. Sarma’s defense later claimed that Anthony “resorted to cult-like techniques, including gaslighting, sleep deprivation, and sexual humiliation, to control her.” His attorney categorically denied all these claims.
In the end, Anthony pleaded guilty to four counts of fourth-degree grand larceny. He was sentenced to time served and received five years probation. [Anthony would be sentenced to five to 15 years behind bars in case of a violation]. His lawyer said, “He’s satisfied, especially now that it has come to light that she played an equal and culpable role in this.” Anthony’s probation is slated to end in May 2022. His attorney had mentioned that his client wanted to serve his probation in Massachusetts, where he is originally from. However, it seems that Anthony has since maintained a low profile and has largely stayed away from public attention. From what we can tell, he likely still lives in Massachusetts.
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