James Iannazzo was arrested on Saturday after a video of him went viral on social media, in which he is seen confronting the employees of a Robeks smoothie store in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Iannazzo, 48, was charged with disorderly conduct after the incident, which occurred when he ordered a drink for his son, who has a peanut allergy.
Iannazzo, of Fairfield, has been charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias in the second degree, breach of peace in the second degree and criminal trespass in the first degree.
Iannazzo is accused of making hateful comments towards an individual and then following them onto their property without permission, with the intent to cause fear or alarm. If convicted, Iannazzo could face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Iannazzo graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree. He began working for the company in November of that year, according to his LinkedIn profile. His profile lists his job title as wealth management adviser and managing director.
Merrill Lynch spokesperson Bill Halldin confirmed to Newsweek on Sunday that Iannazzo had been fired. “Our company does not tolerate this type of behavior,” the statement said. “We immediately investigated and took action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm.”
Iannazzo is still employed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, according to their website. His profile includes a note that he has one denied complaint from April 2015, alleging unauthorized trading.
Iannazzo has been working with Merrill Lynch since joining the company, and he has built up a large client base of loyal customers who need help with a wide range of wealth management issues. His clients include active and retired corporate executives, investment professionals, physicians, attorneys, accountants, and entrepreneurs.
His “sensitivity to client needs during difficult times—the loss of a spouse or job, illness, or when transitioning to retirement—is critical to being an effective financial advisor,” according to Forbes, who ranked him 24 on a list of the best in-state wealth advisers last year.
Iannazzo’s LinkedIn bio listed his wife and three young children as among the things that make him proud.
According to the Fairfield Police Department, Iannazzo made a purchase at the Robeks store, located at 2061 Black Rock Turnpike, at around 1:05 p.m. on Saturday and left without incident.
Around 30 minutes after the initial incident, Iannazzo called 911 again, this time requesting an EMS response to his home for a juvenile suffering from an allergic reaction. The child was then transported to a nearby hospital by the EMS, as per police request.
A short time after leaving the store, Iannazzo returned and demanded to know from employees which one of them had made the smoothie containing peanuts, causing his son’s allergic reaction.
The store’s employees told police that he had only requested that there be no peanut butter in his drink and did not mention the allergy.
After an employee posted a video of the encounter on TikTok, it quickly circulated on Twitter with one clip racking up more than 2.6 million views.
In the video, Iannazzo can be seen asking the employees, “I want to speak to the person who made this drink. Is that you?”
When the employees tell Iannazzo that they don’t know which of them made the mistake and that he should call the franchise’s corporate office, Iannazzo gets angry. He starts swearing at the employees, calling them “stupid boy ignorant high school kids” and one employee “.
The man in the video is seen throwing a drink over the counter at one of the employees and hitting her shoulder. Another worker then calls 911. “The employee reported that they had no complaints of pain or injury,” police said. When the employee demands he leave the store, Iannazzo continues yelling and calls her a “f****** immigrant loser.” The video then shows him trying, unsuccessfully, to get through a locked door that leads to an employees-only area of the shop.
On Monday, Newsweek spoke with Iannazzo’s attorney Frank J. Riccio II who stated that his client “deeply regrets his actions.” He went on to say that Iannazzo’s is currently “on the road to recovery.” According to an earlier statement released by Riccio, Iannazzo had made it explicitly clear to staff that the product he ordered must not contain peanuts. The receipt given to him also noted that the drink should be peanut-free. Iannazzo’s son has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts and after consuming the Robeks smoothie, had a severe reaction that required emergency medical transport to the hospital.