Police: Fairfield man hurled smoothie and bigoted remarks at Robeks employees
A Fairfield man was arrested Saturday after berating employees and using racial slurs inside a smoothie shop on Black Rock Turnpike.
The incident was captured in a TikTok video that has since been taken down. News 12 was given permission to use the video.
Fairfield police responded to Robeks just before 2:30 p.m. after employees called police on James Iannazzo who made a purchase at the store earlier in the afternoon.
Police say they responded to his home after his child had an allergic reaction to the drink and was transported to a hospital.
According to police, “Iannazzo returned to Robeks and confronted employees, yelling at them and demanding to know who had made the smoothie which contained peanuts, causing his child’s allergic reaction.”
When employees didn’t provide Iannazzo with that information, he cursed at them and threw the drink, which hit a female employee’s shoulder.
“You [expletive] immigrant loser,” he can be heard saying on the video.
Iannazzo refused to leave and then attempted to open a locked door. Police say he eventually left the scene and turned himself into police later without incident. He told officers that he was upset about his son having the allergic reaction.
According to police: “During the investigation, employees reported that Iannazzo never told them about the peanut allergy but had only requested that there be no peanut butter in his drink.”
Iannazzo was charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias in the second degree, breach of peace in the second degree and criminal trespass in the first degree. He was issued a court appearance date of Feb. 7 at Bridgeport Superior Court.
Iannazzo was a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch. The firm issued a statement after his arrest:
"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."
Frank J. Riccio II, Iannazzo's attorney, posted a statement online:
"Mr. Iannazzo wholeheartedly regrets the incident that took place at the Fairfield Robeks on January 22, 2022. Mr. Iannazzo placed an order at the Robeks and stressed to the staff that the product must not contain peanuts. His receipt acknowledged that the order should not contain peanut butter. His son has a life threatening peanut allergy. Upon drinking the Robeks smoothie, his son had a severe allergic reaction which required transport via ambulance to the hospital. 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."
When asked about the status of Iannazzo's son, his lawyer told News 12: "His son is on the road to recovery."
Robeks also issued a statement:
"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 behavior, and we are thankful that the franchisee’s team members were not physically hurt. We appreciate the swift action by law enforcement and the judicial system in pursuing criminal charges for this unacceptable behavior."
James Iannazzo is facing multiple charges. (Credit: Fairfield Police)