Smoothie shop tirade lands Connecticut man with hate crime charge

2 mins read

By Rami Ayyub

– A Connecticut man faces a hate crime charge and has lost his job as a financial adviser after hurling a drink and an anti-immigrant insult at an employee in a smoothie shop that he accused of triggering his son’s severe peanut allergy.

In an angry tirade caught on video that went viral on social media, James Iannazzo, 48, is seen yelling expletives at four young female employees at the shop in Fairfield, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City, demanding to know who had put peanuts in his son’s smoothie.

The employees tell him they do not know who made the drink, and ask him to leave. Iannazzo then throws the smoothie at one of them, hitting her in the shoulder, before trying to enter an employee-only area and calling the same woman an “immigrant loser.”

The Fairfield Police Department said Iannazzo had been arrested after turning himself in over the Saturday incident and charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace and criminal trespass. He will appear in court on Feb. 7, it said.

Iannazzo’s lawyer, Frank J. Riccio II, said his client had stressed to staff at the smoothie shop, franchise chain Robeks, that his order must not contain peanuts.

“Upon drinking the Robeks smoothie, his son had a severe allergic reaction which required transport via ambulance to the hospital,” Riccio said.

“Mr. Iannazzo’s parental instinct kicked in and he acted out of anger and fear,” Riccio added, saying his client is not racist and that he deeply regrets his conduct.

A spokesman for Bank of America, the parent company of wealth management firm Merrill Lynch, which had employed Iannazzo as a financial adviser, said: “Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind… This individual is no longer employed at our firm.”

(This story has been refiled to clarify that Bank of America spokesman provided company comment, corrects Iannazzo age)

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)