Woman Known As The ‘Vegan Bernie Madoff’ Is Headed To Rikers Island

Sarma Melngailis, a criminal nicknamed ‘Vegan Bernie Madoff’, has been sentenced to more than three months in jail after confessing to stealing more than $1million from former workers and investors.

Melngailis, 44, appeared in Brooklyn’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 21. She was accused of withholding $40,000 in wages from 84 employees, stealing $840,000 from investors, and siphoning a further $1.6 million from her business accounts.

The 44-year-old woman will serve her sentence at New York’s Rikers Island. Melngailis rose to prominence after her two restaurants, Lucky Duck and Pure Food & Wine, became trendy spots in New York City.

via New York Daily News:

Melngailis, 44, along with her estranged husband Anthony Strangis, pleaded guilty to the scheme that included neglecting paying 84 employees at her businesses Pure Food & Wine in Chelsea and One Lucky Duck juice bar in Gramercy.

As a condition of Melngailis’s guilty plea she only had to admit to stealing over $200,000 from one investor. Strangis, who masqueraded as a wealthy businessman to lure the investors, was sentenced to time served by the same judge after spending a year on Rikers Island.

Once Melngailis finishes her bid she will have to serve five years on probation and pay back $1.5 million in restitution.

Had Melnagailis’ case gone to trial, she faced up to 15 years in prison for the charge of grand larceny if convicted.

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