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Regulation and Compliance > Litigation

Ex-Merrill Advisor Who Hurled Drink, Racist Insults Seeks Probation

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What You Need to Know

  • The broker was fired after he was captured on video throwing a drink and swearing at employees at a smoothie shop plans to plead not guilty.
  • He faces charges of intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace and criminal trespass.
  • A hearing is scheduled for April 8 at 10 a.m. at Bridgeport Superior Court, according to the court’s website.

The former Merrill Lynch broker who was fired by the wirehouse after he was captured on video throwing a drink and swearing at employees at a Robeks smoothie shop in Connecticut is expected to plead not guilty to the three charges he faces at a hearing on April 8 at 10 a.m. at Bridgeport Superior Court, according to the court’s website.

The broker and advisor, James Iannazzo, applied for a pretrial probation program on Wednesday and is seeking accelerated rehabilitation in which he would plead not guilty to the charges and could be placed on up to two years of probation, according to the Connecticut Post. The program is designed for nonviolent offenders.

Iannazzo’s lawyers, Eugene Riccio and Frank Riccio II, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

The Fairfield Police Department had arrested Iannazzo in January and charged him with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace and criminal trespass.

The incident, captured on a video that spread widely on social media and in the news, showed Iannazzo throwing a drink and calling an employee an “immigrant loser.” He said the store had sold him a smoothie that caused his son to have a severe allergic reaction.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards “imposed an interim suspension of the CFP certification against” Iannazzo in February.

On Twitter, Iannazzo’s lawyer, Frank Riccio II, posted a statement saying: “Mr. Iannazzo wholeheartedly regrets the incident that took place at the Fairfield Robeks on January 22, 2022. Mr. Iannazzo placed an order at the Robeks and stressed to the staff that the product must not contain peanuts.

His receipt acknowledged that the order should not contain peanut butter. His son has a life-threatening peanut butter allergy.”

Riccio added: “Upon drinking the Robeks smoothie, his son had a severe allergic reaction which required transport via ambulance to the hospital. When faced with a dire situation for his son, Mr. Iannazzo’s parental instinct kicked in and he acted out of anger and fear. He is not a racist individual and deeply regrets his statements and actions during a moment of extreme emotional stress.”

Riccio told ThinkAdvisor that Iannazzo’s son was “home and thankfully on the road to recovery.”

(Pictured: James Iannazzo; Image supplied by Fairfield Police Department)