How Poor Vegan Anthony Strangis Reinvented Himself as a Self-Billed GOP Operative
The Netflix docuseries Bad Vegan begins with a call between Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis. This is the typical conversation viewers will hear over its three hours. It features Strangis warning his ex-wife not to participate in the very same series they are currently watching.
Strangis, a tristate tough-guy baritone, warns, “I’m no fucking joker.” “I’m not someone to be fisted with.”
It turned out that there was much more to the call than viewers had heard.
I profiled Melngailis’s bizarre relationship for Vanity Fair 2016 and was interviewed by Bad Vegan in 2016. I am also a consultant producer on a scripted version story developing for Peacock. Strangis’s story after his release from prison in 2017 has fascinated me. Recently, I learned more about the phone conversation between Melngailis & Strangis. Something was interesting in the back-and-forth psychodrama. It was about the photos which prompted the resignation of U.S. Congresswoman Katie Hill. Was a freshman Democrat hailing from the Los Angeles suburbs?
According to two sources, Strangis said he knew about the photos before they became public. Two weeks had passed since Hill’s resignation and five days after the intimacies photos of Hill with a staffer broke. RedState, a right-wing blog, published the photos. Their provenance is still unknown. Strangis claimed to have known of the photos’ existence before publication. Sources claimed that Strangis said he worked as a political operative behind-the-scenes during the call.
This might seem like another boastful statement from Melngailis, who claimed he was a covert agent and could grant Leon and Leon immortality. Maybe he picked it up from the news at the time. Then I discovered something else: A marriage certificate that shows that Strangis, Jennifer Van Laar and the RedState reporter who published the photos were married in Las Vegas on August 10, 2021.
According to another document recently discovered, Strangis would have been able to go from Rikers Island’s frying pan to the flames of Southern California Republican politics despite owing nearly $20 million in federal tax lien restitution and more than $800,000. This would be another twist in the Bad Vegan story. In Alec Baldwin‘s tweets, the series focuses on Melngailis, the owner of Pure Food and Wine, a raw vegan restaurant. Between 2011 and 2016, Strangis, who allegedly used gaslighting techniques, convinced Melngailis that he was connected with mystical forces that could assist her. He coaxed investors into investing in her restaurant and continued to wire her money.
Melngailis and Strangis spent almost a year traveling after Melngailis’s restaurant was closed in 2015. They were both arrested at a Tennessee hotel, transferred to New York, and each pleaded guilty to Melngailis to grand theft, criminal tax fraud and a scheme defraud. Strangis was sentenced to four counts of fourth-degree grand larceny. Melngailis was sentenced to four months in prison, while Strangis was sentenced to one year. In 2018, they divorced. They divorced in 2018.
The fate of Strangis is not discussed in the series. Sam Karliner, his lawyer, has repeatedly denied that Strangis had manipulated Melngailis. Strangis declined to comment on the article and was not interviewed for the documentary. Since Bad Vegan was launched, Strangis allowed Karliner to speak to E! News once on his behalf: “Anthony feels sorry for the people at the restaurant who lost money, and he accepted full responsibility for that ….. He has a job and uses his name, which is behind him.
However, in conversations with Strangis’s sister McKaila, she stated that Strangis now has a driver’s license with a new name and has borrowed money from her to help collect funds. She also shared the origins of the bizarre stories about her brother, including the one concerning the meat suit.
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