Vegan Bernie Madoff????
Sarma Melngailis appeared to have it all. I think she did until she didn’t. Sarma was the darling of the vegan world in NYC. She was loved by Bill Clinton, Alec Baldwin and many other foodies for her culinary skills. MeIngailis was the proprietor of Pure Food and Wine in Gramercy.
Sarma is currently sitting in Rikers jail with a $350k bail for an alleged $2 million embezzlement from her own restaurant. How did this happen? Many say it happened because of a relationship. Remember how in Dorothy Zietz’s book she categorized various embezzlers? Is MeIngailis a Romantic Dreamer or Victim of Pressure or Persuasion?
A Romantic Dreamer according to Zietz is one who is impelled to protect the health or welfare of a loved person. Zietz also goes on “these women were not primarily concerned with the real needs of significant persons (for example, a need for medical care). But instead they sought either to preserve for themselves what they considered their most important possession-a husband’s love, or to enhance a relationship with a lover or a relative…these women had also been conditioned to believe that preservation of a relationship with a beloved person justified any necessary sacrifice of personal values or positions of trust. (Zietz 1981)
Victims of Persuasion or Pressure were women who accepted positions of trust in good faith, but subsequently violated that trust in response to some form of pressure exerted by another person…the coercive demands or fear-inspiring threats of a husband or lover provided the impetus for criminal behavior. (Zietz 1981)
“It’s the worst nightmare you can think of,” Melngailis revealed to The Post in an exclusive jailhouse interview Saturday morning at Rikers. “If I had terminal cancer, it would be better than this, because at least [then] I did not cause it.” http://nyp.st/20sd2DV courtesy of NY Post.
Although she says she didn’t order Dominos Pizza before her arrest it seems her life started spiraling out of control when she met Anthony Strangis in 2013. “Things were going well when I was single,” admits Melngailis, though she wouldn’t cite Strangis’ involvement in her downfall.
MeIngailis, 43, appears to be a bit of a cougar to Strangis, 35. Strangis has previous arrests by law enforcement. Strangis allegedly posed as a cop in 2005 and also had a couple arrests for Grand Theft. After Strangis came on the scene, “[Melngailis] would go on more trips. [She] definitely became more elusive, less concerned with the well-being of the company,” says a line cook.
“She’s the vegan Bernie Madoff,” says Benjamin Dictor, attorney for a group of ex-Pure workers. According to the indictment, 84 of them are owed a collective $40,000.
A former director of operations at Pure Food and Wine alleges Strangis and Melngailis stole with a vengeance. “There’d be times when I’d come in on a Monday and get a text or call from [Strangis], ‘Don’t deposit the money. You have to meet me here with the money,’ ” recalls the director. “I wouldn’t meet him at the company bank. I’d meet him at the CitiBank, where he had a personal account.”
While it’s inarguable that Melngailis got wrapped up with the wrong guy, those “friends” say her carefully cultivated public persona hid some deeper demons.
Her ex-boyfriend Kenney told Page Six in 2005 that Melngailis physically attacked him on multiple occasions.
When Melngailis asked for a vegan diet at Rikers, her request was denied. She says she makes do with peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, apples and fresh-sliced cucumber.
Good people do bad things and bad people do good things. That is important to remember when you are a small business owner. MeIngailis appeared to have it all but then it changed. Although she was the primary owner of the business the investors and employees have lost out. It seems there were “pink flags” in her behavior. It has been said that some women start stealing for a relationship issue. This may be the case for MeIngailis. I’m sure we will find out soon enough in the papers.