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February 7, 2022

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Fired Merrill Lynch broker James Iannazzo, who was arrested two weeks ago over a biased tirade at a Connecticut smoothie shop, was banned from the store by a judge on Monday at his first court appearance since the incident, according to local news reports. 

Iannazzo, 48, was charged with a felony of intimidation based on bigotry or bias as well as breach of peace and criminal trespass after an expletive-laden outburst referring to an employee as an “immigrant loser” and hitting another with a smoothie. He also attempted to break into a locked employee-only area behind the counter at the Robeks location, police said. 

The judge scheduled a second court appearance for March 9, according to the CTPost

“You are ordered to stay away from Robeks and have no further contact with the victim,” Connecticut Superior Court Judge Ndidi Moses said, according to the publication. 

His lawyer, Frank J. Riccio II, and a spokesperson did not return requests for comment on how Iannazzo may plea at the May hearing or whether he will restart his brokerage career. 

The incident quickly gained notoriety after being shared on TikTok, where it racked up millions of views. Iannazzo’s lawyer previously said that the broker had returned to the smoothie shop after his son had suffered a severe allergic reaction to a smoothie that contained peanuts and was acting out of distress. 

“When faced with a dire situation for his son, Mr. Iannazzo’s parental instinct kicked in and he acted out of anger and fear,” Riccio said in a statement. “He is not a racist individual and deeply regrets his statements and actions during a moment of extreme emotional stress.”

Workers at the store said Iannazzo had not informed them of the allergy but had requested a smoothie without peanut butter. Iannazzo claimed through a spokesperson that he had informed workers of the allergy. 

Iannazzo had called 911 requesting emergency medical support at his home due to an allergic reaction at 1:39 in the afternoon on January 22, according to a statement from the Fairfield police department. He returned to the Robeks store a “short time later,” police said.  

“I was out of my mind with fear for him when I returned to Robek’s[sic], and I wish I had not done so,” Iannazzo said in the statement. “I also wish they had been more careful preparing my son’s beverage.”

After the incident was shared on TikTok, his former Merrill Lynch business listing on Google received dozens of negative comments and reviews. 

Merrill Lynch quickly fired Iannazzo, a spokesperson for its Bank of America parent confirmed previously. He had spent all of his 25-year career at the company, according to regulatory filings. 

“Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind,” the spokesman said in a statement. “We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm.”

Iannazzo’s BrokerCheck record as of Monday still reflected his registration with Merrill Lynch as firms have 30 days following a termination to file a U5 notice with regulators. 

Iannazzo was a perennial figure on industry top broker rankings, including five years in a row as one of Barron’s Top 1,200 advisors by state. He managed $469 million in assets, according to Forbes, which ranked him #24 in Connecticut in 2021.

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