Gabby Petito's Family Demands Laundrie's Lawyer Stop Using Her Image to Drum Up Business

The parents of Gabby Petito have demanded that Steven Bertolino, the lawyer of their deceased daughter's fiancé Brian Laundrie, stop using Petito's image to drum up business for his law practice.

In a September 22 letter sent by Richard B. Stafford, the Petito family's lawyer, Stafford wrote Bertolino, "The Petito and Schmidt family are demanding that you remove Gabby Petito's picture from your Yelp page."

The letter said that the Petito family tried to remove their daughter's picture from Bertolino's Yelp page, but were informed that only the business owner can add or remove pictures.

Brian Laundrie Lawyer Steven Bertolino Gabby Petito
The parents of Gabby Petito have demanded that Steven Bertolino, the lawyer of their deceased daughter's fiancé Brian Laundrie, stop using Petito's image to drum up business for his law practice. In this image, Tara Petito (L) and Joe Petito react during a news conference for their daughter on September 16, 2021 in North Port, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty

"Furthermore," the letter continued, "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."

The letter said that Stafford would take further action on behalf of the Petito family if the photo wasn't removed from Bertolino's Yelp page by 2 p.m. local time.

In response, Bertolino issued a statement that read, "I have never used social media or any other electronic platform for advertising other than maintaining a website. I do not control the internet sites nor the hacks and public that have been overrunning the internet with fake comments and 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," Bertolino added.

A Yelp spokesperson confirmed that "the user who uploaded the photo removed it today," The Independent reported.

Newsweek contacted Bertolino's office for comment.

Bertolino is representing Laundrie's family. Brian Laundrie is a person of interest in the murder investigation of Petito. Petito turned up missing during her cross-country trip with Laundrie.

Laundrie returned home from the journey alone at the start of September and was last seen on September 14. Five days later, Petito's body was discovered.

A major search is underway for Laundrie. His parents told police that he went hiking in the 24,500-acre Carlton wildlife reserve near the family's Sarasota County home. Laundrie hasn't been charged with any crimes.

In a statement issued last week, Bertolino said Laundrie wouldn't speak to police because "intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this."

Bertolino has said that he has no additional information on Laundrie's whereabouts.

Late Monday, Laundrie's lawyer canceled a press conference that was scheduled for Tuesday, September 21, at 1:00 p.m. local time. He canceled it after speaking with the FBI on Monday evening, WABC reported.

Bertolino has received more than 30 1-star reviews on Google since revealing himself as Brian Laundrie's lawyer. He had no Google reviews of his law practice prior to him representing Laundrie.

Bertolino has been practicing law in Long Island, New York since 1994 after earning his Juris Doctor from Hofstra Law, according to his website. His website says he has "a diverse knowledge of many areas of law" including real estate, business, commercial litigation and criminal cases.