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Regulation and Compliance > Litigation

Rep Fired From Merrill After Smoothie Incident Has a New Gig

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What You Need to Know

  • James Iannazzo was fired in January by Merrill after he was captured on video throwing a drink and swearing at employees at a smoothie shop.
  • He has now been hired by Aegis Capital to serve as a broker and registered rep.
  • Iannazzo would no longer qualify to be affiliated with a FINRA-registered firm if he is found guilty of the felony he was charged with.

The former Merrill Lynch broker who was fired in January by the wirehouse after he was captured on video throwing a drink and swearing at employees at a Robeks smoothie shop in Connecticut was hired by Aegis Capital this month to serve as a broker and registered representative, according to his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website.

His time at Aegis, however, could be short-lived if he is convicted of at least one of the charges against him related to the January incident.

James Iannazzo turned himself in to the Fairfield Police Department after the incident. The video, which circulated in local news and on social media, also showed him calling an employee an “immigrant loser” and questioning her immigration status.

He was charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias in the second degree, a felony, and also two misdemeanors: breach of peace in the second degree and criminal trespass in the first degree.

The list of events disqualifying somebody from serving as a FINRA-registered rep in Section 3(a)(39) of the Securities and Exchange Act includes “certain misdemeanor and all felony criminal convictions for a period of ten years from the date of conviction,” according to FINRA’s website.

Aegis did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Eugene Riccio, Iannazzo’s attorney, declined to comment.

Iannazzo is expected to plead not guilty to the three charges at a hearing on April 8 at 10 a.m. at Bridgeport Superior Court, according to the court’s website and the Connecticut Post, which reported he applied for a pretrial probation program and is seeking accelerated rehabilitation, through which he would plead not guilty and could be placed on probation for up to two years.

“Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind,” Merrill spokesman Bill Halldin told ThinkAdvisor by email in January, after the smoothie shop incident. “We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm.”

Smoothie Shop Incident

The Fairfield Police Department received several calls from employees at the Fairfield store on Jan. 22, reporting a customer was “throwing things, yelling at employees, and refusing to leave,” FPD said in a news release.

An investigation revealed that at about 1:05 p.m., Iannazzo made a purchase at Robeks and left the store without incident, according to FPD. But, at about 1:39 p.m, Iannazzo called 911 requesting an EMS response to his home, saying his son was suffering from an allergic reaction. The son was transported to a hospital.

Shortly after that, Iannazzo returned to the smoothie shop and “confronted employees, yelling at them and demanding to know who had made the smoothie which contained peanuts, causing his child’s allergic reaction,” FPD said.

FPD added: “When employees could not provide Iannazzo with the answer he became irate, yelling at the employees using a number of expletives. He then threw a drink at an employee, which hit their right shoulder. The employee reported that they had no complaints of pain or injury.

Although employees told Iannazzo to leave multiple times, he remained inside the shop and continued yelling insults at the employees, according to FPD. He then tried to open a locked door that led to an “Employees Only” area where the employees were, behind the counter.

Iannazzo left the store before police arrived but was soon identified, according to FPD. Iannazzo told police he was upset about his son having a severe allergic reaction.

(Pictured: James Iannazzo. Photo: Fairfield Police Department)