Fairfield

Connecticut Man Arrested After Racist Tirade Over Smoothie, Cops Say

Police say James Iannazzo swore at empoyees of a smoothie shop, throwing a drink at one and questioned her immigration status in a rage over a drink containing peanuts

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James Iannazzo’s attorney said his client was under stress and apologized for what he said.

A Connecticut man in a rage over the inadvertent use of peanuts in a smoothie went on a threatening, racist tirade against a shop's young employees, leading to his arrest, Fairfield police said.

James Iannazzo, 48, of Fairfield, faces charges of intimidation based on bias, breach of peace and criminal trespass.

According to police, Iannazzo purchased a smoothie at Robeks on Black Rock Turnpike about 1 p.m. Saturday. Roughly 30 minutes later, police say he called 911 from his home for a child having an allergic reaction. The child was taken to a local hospital.

A few minutes later, Iannazzo returned to the Robeks location and, police say, yelled at employees and demanded to know who had caused his child to have an allergic reaction by putting peanuts in the smoothie.

When employees couldn't answer, cops say Iannazzo became irate, yelling vulgarly, throwing a drink at one employee and questioning her immigration status. Cops say he was asked to leave and refused, even attempting to open a locked "Employees Only" door to get behind the store's counter.

He subsequently left before police arrived, but was identified and turned himself in, saying he was upset about his son's allergic reaction. Store employees told cops that Iannazzo never mentioned an allergy, only asking that the peanut butter be left out of a drink.

A purported video of the dispute was posted to TikTok and quickly racked up more than 2 million views. In the video Iannazzo can clear be heard screaming epithets at the employees and demanding that they stop filming him.

Merrill Lynch, where Iannazzo worked as a financial advisor, said Sunday it acted quickly on learning of the incident.

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

Forbes ranked Iannazzo as one of Connecticut's top 25 high net worth wealth advisers last year.

An attorney for Iannazzo issued a statement on behalf of his client late Sunday.

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

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