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Ex-Merrill Advisor Who Threw Smoothie Catches FINRA's Eye Over Cash Transactions

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What You Need to Know

  • FINRA says James Iannazzo structured cash transactions in his personal accounts to avoid federal reporting requirements, according to BrokerCheck.

The advisor who was fired by Merrill Lynch early this year over an incident in which he was captured on video throwing a drink and swearing at employees at a Robeks smoothie shop in Connecticut now may be in hot water with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

FINRA revealed in a disclosure in November on James Iannazzo’s report on the BrokerCheck website that it “made a preliminary determination to recommend that disciplinary action be brought against [him] alleging violation of FINRA Rule 2010 in that he structured cash transactions in his personal bank and brokerage accounts to avoid federal reporting requirements.”

Rule 2010 governs standards of commercial honor and principles of trade.

Iannazzo, his spokesman and Aegis Capital, the firm that hired Iannazzo in March as a broker and registered representative after he was fired by Merrill, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Iannazzo was fired in January by the wirehouse after the smoothie shop outburst, which was widely reported and shared on social media sites.

The video captured of the incident showed him throwing a drink and calling an employee an “immigrant loser,”  questioning her immigration status.

He turned himself in to the Fairfield Police Department after the incident. 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.

After receiving probation in April, Iannazzo in August settled a civil lawsuit filed by one of the Robeks employees for $7,500.

The employee sought $300,000 in damages, Iannazzo spokesman Brian Glicklich said. He called the $7,500 settlement a “token payment.”

Glicklich pointed out that Iannazzo had returned to the Robeks location “after his son was taken by ambulance to the hospital after a life threatening nut-based allergic reaction” to a smoothie he allegedly was sold at the store.

Iannazzo “returned to the store in an effort to find out what had been mistakenly put in the smoothie, which had been ordered nut-free. Told by an employee that they ‘didn’t know,’ he lost his temper briefly and set off the chain of events,” Glicklich added.

Iannazzo “will always regret his momentary loss of temper at the time of his son’s medical emergency, and this outcome clearly shows the weakness of the case attempted against him,” Glicklich said.

(Pictured: James Iannazzo; courtesy of Fairfield Police Department)


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