Merrill Lynch fired a 26-year employee in Connecticut after he went on a rant at a smoothie store that was captured on a viral TikTok video.
Fairfield police charged financial advisor James Iannazzo, 48, with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace, and criminal trespass after throwing a drink and castigating the staff of a Fairfield Robeks store on Saturday, CNBC reported Monday.
According to the report, Iannazzo went to the store to complain that one of the workers prepared a drink for his 17-year-old son who has a peanut allergy, causing the son to have a “life threatening” allergic reaction requiring hospitalization.
“F---ing stupid, f---ing ignorant high school kids,” Iannazzo said in a video of the incident taken by another person in the store. “I want to speak to the f---ing person who made this drink.”
Iannazzo was trying to locate and speak to the employee that made the drink for his son, refusing to leave the store, and then throwing a drink at a minor employee, the article said.
The wealth advisor, who's LinkedIn profile said he worked for Merrill Lynch since 1995, was terminated Sunday from his position after the video went viral, recording more than 2.6 million views.
“Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind,” said Merrill Lynch spokesman Bill Halldin “We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm.”
There was no listing of Iannazzo or his Stamford firm on the company’s website Monday.
He is scheduled to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court Feb. 7 on the charges, according to the report.
Iannazzo’s attorney, Frank Riccio, issued a statement saying that his client “deeply regrets” the incident and that it is not part of his normal character.
Iannazzo issued a statement of his own apologizing for the rant.
“I had returned to Robek’s to determine what ingredients were in the smoothie that I had previously ordered. I made my regrettable comments because my 17-year-old son was taken to the hospital suffering from life threatening anaphylactic shock,” Iannazzo’s statement said. “He collapsed at our home while drinking the smoothie from Robek’s, which contained some sort of nut product, after I had advised them of his nut allergy when I ordered his drink.”
He said that his son lost the capacity to breathe, and his lips and face began to swell after drinking the beverage, which Innazzo said he expressly asked not to contain anything nut-related due to his son’s allergy.
He gave his son an EpiPen shot to relieve the symptoms, but it did not work, so he called 911.
“My son then went to the bathroom, threw up and fell unconscious to the floor. He threw up again,” Iannazzo said. “My wife gave him another EpiPen while I called 911 again. Thank God, he is doing okay. I’d like to thank my wife and the first responders who I believe saved his life. This is the worst nightmare of every parent whose child has a similar allergy.”
First responders transported the boy to the hospital for treatment, according to the report.
He said he was “out of my mind with fear” for his son when he returned to the store to confront the employee that made the drink and regretted the decision.
“I was out of my mind with fear for him when I returned to Robek’s, and I wish I had not done so," he said in the statement. "I also wish they had been more careful preparing my son’s beverage. I will be extending my apologies personally to the Robek’s organization, particularly the staff that was working there that night.”
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