May 22–A restaurateur described as New York City’s “hottest vegan” was arrested in a Sevier County hotel last week after being “on the lam” for 10 months.
Sarma Melngailis and her husband Anthony Strangis, which the New York Post called the “foodie fugitives,” were arrested after law enforcement officers learned of their whereabouts in Tennessee through a pizza delivery to their Sevierville hotel, where they had been for 40 days.
Melngailis, who has an Ivy League degree and model looks, owned the trendy vegan restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in New York, frequented by celebrities Alec Baldwin, Woody Harrelson and Bill Clinton.
Melngailis and Strangis, a 275-pound alleged gambling addict with a criminal record, are accused of stealing some $2 million from her restaurant company to splurge on Rolex watches, lavish European vacations and trips to casinos, the Post reported.
Among the 24 charges the couple face are grand larceny, tax fraud and scheming to defraud for not paying ex-employees.
Now back in New York and in jail at Riker’s Island, Melngailis said the conditions there, at least, are better than the jail in Sevierville. She told the Post she was held in a cell with no windows and was forced to sleep on the floor.
Melngailis educated the other inmates about veganism and healthy eating while being held in Tennessee, she told the newspaper.
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