A lawyer for the Petito family sent a “cease and desist” letter to the attorney representing Brian Laundrie.
Richard Stafford demanded Steven Bertolino not post photos of Petito “in an effort to gain business.”
The letter was sent after a now-removed photo of Gabby Petito appeared on a Yelp page for Bertolino.
The lawyer for Gabby Petito‘s family on Wednesday issued a “cease and desist” letter to the attorney representing the dead woman’s fiancé, Brian Laundrie, and his parents, demanding that he not post photos of Petito online “in an effort to gain business.”
New York-based attorney Richard Stafford, who is representing Petito’s family, sent the letter to fellow New York-based lawyer Steven Bertolino after a photo of Petito appeared on an unclaimed Yelp page for Bertolino.
The image – which was uploaded by a Yelp user – was removed minutes after Stafford sent his letter by that same Yelp user, a spokesperson for Yelp confirmed.
“The Petito and Schmidt family are demanding that you remove Gabby Petito’s picture from your Yelp page,” Stafford wrote in the letter to Bertolino, which added, “The family tried to remove their daughter’s picture from your page and were informed that only the business owner can add or remove pictures.”
Stafford continued: “Furthermore, the Petito and Schmidt family demand that you cease and desist posting pictures of Gabby Petito to any and all of your social media pages, web pages or advertisements in an effort to gain business.”
“I am sure this will be taken care of by 2pm or I will take further action on behalf of Gabby’s family,” Stafford said.
In a text message to Insider, Bertolino called Staffford’s accusations “sad.”
“I have never used social media or any other electronic platform for advertising other than maintaining a Web site,” Bertolino said. “I do not control the internet sites nor the hacks and public that have been overrunning the internet with fake comments and posts.”
Bertolino went on to say that on Tuesday that Yelp “had to shut down its page for my firm due to inordinate and unconfirmed posts.”
“I would certainly agree with Mr. Stafford that any such post he is referring to should be removed, but advise him that I have no control over that Yelp site,” he said.
Bertolino said he was made aware that Petito’s image was on the Yelp page on Tuesday, “So I looked at it and there was an overlay on the page that said the page was temporarily shut down until [Yelp] could verify the authenticity of the posts.”
Bertolino also said he has “not advertised or sought business” in more than 20 years and “would certainly not use this case to drum up any business.”
According to Yelp, businesses cannot remove photos on their business page. Only the user who uploaded the photo or Yelp’s content moderators can remove it.
Yelp confirmed that the Yelp page for Bertolino was “unclaimed” and that an “unusual activity alert” was placed on the page on Tuesday.
Negative reviewers flooded Bertolino’s Yelp page
The FBI confirmed Tuesday that it was Petito’s body that was discovered in a remote campsite of a Wyoming national forest Sunday after the 22-year-old New York native went missing while on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie.
The Teton County coroner initially determined her manner of death to be a homicide, but her cause of death “remains pending final autopsy results.”
Laundrie was named a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance on September 15 after he returned to the North Port, Florida home, where he lived with his fiancée and his parents, in the van the couple had been traveling in and without her on September 1.
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