Starbucks Poisoning: Woman 'Customer' Swaps Out Lethal Juice Bottles

Image: Starbucks Poisoning: Woman 'Customer' Swaps Out Lethal Juice Bottles San Jose Police Department photo of Ramineh Behbehanian.

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 11:33 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A California woman has been arrested and charged with felony poisoning after police say she swapped out orange juice bottles from a San Jose Starbucks display case and replaced them ones containing a "lethal quantity" of rubbing alcohol.

Starbucks customers on Monday watched Ramineh Behbehanian, 50, swap out two bottles of Evolution Fresh orange juice from the refrigerated display case and replace them with two bottles she was carrying in a Starbucks bag, San Jose Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Apparently she was trying to appear as a customer," Dwyer told the Chronicle. Carrying a Starbucks bag, he added, "tells me that she had planned this out. A Starbucks bag inside of a Starbucks shop is not going to stand out."

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After she placed the bottles, Behbehanian reportedly got into line as if to order a coffee, but the customers who spied her alerted a Starbucks employee, and she fled. Police tracked her down at her home later that night, thanks to the employee who had jotted down her license plate number.

No one drank the tainted juice, police said, which tests confirmed contained isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol.

Behbehanian is being held at the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder and poisoning.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Behbehanian has a master's degree in physical chemistry and chemical engineering from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and works at a pharmaceutical subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

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The profile said Behbehanian had more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, diagnostic and medical device industries and had expertise in "drug delivery and controlled release technologies," among other things.

Neighbors said Behbehanian lives alone and keeps to herself. Police have not yet uncovered a motive for the attempted poisoning.

Related stories:

Kiddie Academy Teacher Accused of Putting Sominex into Tots' Sippy Cups

Teens Admit Trying to Poison Their Teacher with Hand Sanitizer

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