Merrill Lynch executive arrested after racist attack on store workers over smoothie order is caught on video

The wealth adviser has been fired by the investment management company

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Tuesday 25 January 2022 18:38
Merrill Lynch executive arrested after racist smoothie shop tirade
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A Merrill Lynch financial adviser was arrested after being caught on camera hurling racist abuse and throwing a drink at the staff of a smoothie store in Connecticut.

James Iannazzo, 48, ordered a smoothie from a Robeks smoothie shop outlet for his son, who has a peanut allergy. According to the Fairfield police department, he ordered a drink without peanut butter but did not mention his son’s allergy.

After Mr Iannazzo's son suffered an allergic reaction and was “transported to an area hospital,” he returned to the shop.

In a video of the incident, which garnered 16 million views on TikTok prior to being removed from the platform on Sunday, he can be seen repeatedly demanding to know who made the drink.

The three employees present at the store during the incident said they weren’t sure and directed him to call the franchise’s corporate office with the complaint.

The man then started to hurl abuses at the employees demanding to know the number of the corporate office. “Shut the f*** up! Stupid f****** idiot. You’re a f***** idiot. I want the f***** number. Shut up,” he can be heard yelling in the video.

The man then can be seen throwing a drink at one of the employees, hitting her right shoulder, after which he tried to breach the employee-only entrance as staff called the police.

Mr Iannazzo was asked to leave multiple times but he continued to yell insults at the employees, even calling one of them a “f****** immigrant loser”.

He left the shop prior to the police’s arrival but later turned himself in, authorities said.

Mr Iannazzo was arrested on charges of intimidation based on bias, breach of peace and criminal trespass. Following his arrest, he was fired from his position at Merrill Lynch, where he had been working for the past 26 years.

He was ranked by Forbes in 2021 as one of the 25 best in-state wealth advisers.

His attorney Frank J Riccio said in a statement that Mr Iannazzo was “not racist and deeply regrets his statement and actions during a moment of extreme emotion”.

He is scheduled to appear in court on 7 February.

At Robeks, our priority is to protect both store team members and guests. The company and its franchisees have a zero-tolerance policy for this type of behaviour, and we are thankful that the franchisee’s team members were not physically hurt,” Robeks spokesperson Barbara Caruso wrote in a statement to Newsweek.

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