San Jose, CA – Authorities are cautioning consumers and Starbucks employees to keep a watchful eye on what they are drinking and serving after a woman was arrested for leaving bottles of tainted juice in a San Jose Starbucks display case.
On Monday around 3:45 pm, a customer witnessed another Starbucks patron suspiciously remove two bottles of orange juice from her purse and place them into an open refrigerated display case. Starbucks staff was alerted, and the suspect fled the establishment located on the 6000 block of Snell Avenue.
Employees called 911, and, after examining the bottles, investigators detected what they described as a “toxic smell” emitting from the containers. Tests later determined the cause of the toxic odor was a lethal level of isopropyl rubbing alcohol blended in with the orange juice.
According to the Los Angeles Times, witnesses were able to provide a license plate number and police were able to track down 50-year-old Ramineh Behbehanian at her home on Chambertin Drive five miles away.
No motive was provided, but authorities are concerned she may have tried this before and or would have done it again had she not been caught in the act. Ramineh was arrested on suspicion of attempted felony poisoning. She was also charged with attempted murder.
California law, penal code 347, makes it a crime for anyone who intentionally mixes poison or other hazardous substances in with food, drinks, medicine, or the public water supply, knowing that someone will consume it and injure themselves.
The crime of felony poisoning requires a specific intent and is levied against a person who knew or should have known that placing toxic substances into an ingested product could cause injury. Upon being found guilty a sentence of up to five years can be imposed. Additional penalties are tacked on with the commingling of an attempted murder charge.
A spokesman for Starbucks, Zack Hutson, assures the public that San Jose area branches have checked their products for signs of tampering, and as a precaution, all juices were removed and thrown out at the location of the alleged crime.