The Ridiculous Amount Of Money Bad Vegan's Sarma Ended Up Sending Anthony

The more that viewers of Netflix's new true crime documentary "Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives." learn about the incredible success of the vegan restaurant owned by Sarma Melngailis, the more unbelievable it is that the entire enterprise disintegrated in a scandal of fraud and theft. Pure Food And Wine, Melngailis' groundbreaking, raw vegan restaurant in New York City, was open from 2004 to 2015, according to Popsugar. The Netflix series shares that at the height of its popularity, the celebrity hotspot and its adjoining take-out shop, Lucky Duck, were making over $7 million in gross sales annually. 

What ultimately led to the demise of the business — and of Melngailis, who had become a "poster woman" for the high-end vegan dining lifestyle — was when she began funneling money from the business to her husband, Anthony Strangis. Viewers learn from the "Bad Vegan" series that Strangis frequently demanded wire transfers of cash from Melngailis, with very vague explanations of where the money was going. 

The first instance of Strangis asking for money happened early in their relationship. "He just needed it, it was like life or death. He had to have it," Melngailis says. The wire transfers continued for years, until the amount she had sent to him reached an unbelievable total.

Melngailis wasn't the only one sending him money

Throughout "Bad Vegan," viewers see photos of dozens of wire transfer forms that Sarma Melngailis used to send money from her restaurant's accounts, with amounts ranging from $10,000 to as much as $190,000 in one transaction. It's revealed that in a two-year period, Melngailis transferred a total of $1.7 million dollars to Anthony Strangis. The series also shares that Strangis didn't only get money from his wife. He was also in frequent email contact with Melngailis' mother, where he would allude to problems with her daughter that he was trying to handle. Strangis convinced her mother to send several wire transfers to him, totaling $400,000. 

As incredible as these amounts are, they pale in comparison to the total amount of debt left in the wake of Melngailis and Strangis' embezzlement and fraud convictions. Between unpaid taxes, money put up by many investors, and unpaid wages for the restaurant's employees, the money owed totaled $6.14 million. 

In the final episode, Melngailis reflects on this amount and, surprisingly, chuckles as she does, saying, "It's just so ... big." It's a rather callous reaction to the staggering amount of damage done in just a few years time, not to mention the loss of trust and friendship Melngailis once had with her investors and employees, and the loss of her beloved business.