The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. said Tuesday that it has halted, at least for the short term, the use of its vaunted certification by a former Merrill Lynch financial adviser who was fired last month after a disorderly incident in a Connecticut smoothie shop.
The adviser, James Iannazzo, had been registered with Merrill Lynch in Stamford, Connecticut, since 1996; it’s not clear how long he had the CFP certification, one of the most widely respected designations in the financial advice industry.
Merrill Lynch said that it fired Iannazzo soon after a video of the incident was posted on social media.
“This unfortunate matter will be addressed in court in due course,” said Iannazzo’s attorney, Eugene Riccio, on Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement regarding its decision to suspend Iannazzo, the CFP Board clearly had concerns over the confrontation that led to his arrest on three charges, including intimidation based on bigotry or bias in the second degree, a felony.
A video of the incident last month led to a social media storm. Iannazzo erupted at a Robeks smoothie store, throwing a drink at an employee, hitting them and demanding to know who made a smoothie that contained peanuts and caused his child’s severe allergic reaction, according to the Fairfield police department.
“CFP Board staff became aware of an incident in which Mr. Iannazzo verbally and physically abused certain employees of a smoothie shop, one of whom was reportedly a minor, near his home on January 22, 2022, which was captured on video and widely publicized through media and social media outlets,” according to a statement by the CFP Board.
After a review, a hearing panel of the disciplinary and ethics commission determined that Iannazzo’s “conduct significantly impinges upon the reputation of the profession and the CFP certification marks,” according to the statement.
Meanwhile, on Monday a judge in Bridgeport, Connecticut, ordered Iannazzo to stay away from the smoothie business, according to a local news report by the Connecticut Post and CTPost.com.
“You are ordered to stay away from Robeks and have no further contact with the victim,” Superior Court Judge Ndidi Moses told the 48-year-old Iannazzo, according to the article.
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