South Bay News

Alert barista credited for spotting poisoned juices

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A woman was arrested after a lethal amount of rubbing alcohol was left in two orange juice containers at a Starbucks. Ramineh Behbehanian (KGO) and Starbucks sign (AP) Juice at San Jose Starbucks

A woman was arrested after a lethal amount of rubbing alcohol was left in two orange juice containers at a Starbucks in San Jose on Monday.

An alert Starbucks barista and one of her customers get credit for catching what they suspected was a crime. Their quick action may have prevented someone from drinking a poisoned bottle of juice.

It was the vigilance of three-year veteran barista Jaclyn who spotted what was happening.

She was told not to talk to reporters, but agreed to an exclusive interview if ABC7 News did not show her face.

"I'd seen a lady pull out two of our drinks, two of our juices, and place them on our counter," she said. "And then I went over to our counter to check if they'd been opened or unsealed, and they were unsealed and warm."

Jaclyn says she'd never seen the suspect, 50-year-old San Jose resident Ramineh Behbehanian, before. She described her as acting nervously and in a rush.

"She knew that I was on to her, so she ran out, got in her car and left pretty fast," Jaclyn said. "Me and a customer wrote down her license plate number."

Police and fire units called to the scene said the contents had been laced with rubbing alcohol.

"The quantity of rubbing alcohol inside the bottles was a lethal quantity in both bottles," San Jose Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.

That could mean charges of attempted murder.

The adulterated bottles had been placed at the front of the display case where a customer would be likely to grab them.

Behbehanian lives in an upper middle class south San Jose neighborhood where neighbors said they didn't know her well. No one answered the door at her residence, although an upstairs window was left open.

Product tampering has a long history.

"The drug companies have certainly taken great pains to safeguard many of the medications on the shelves and the like to the point that many medications can't be gotten without special requests from the pharmacist," Ed Bertaccini said.

And now drinks.

Behbehanian is scheduled for arraignment on Thursday. The district attorney's office has not yet filed charges. Jaclyn is taking a well-deserved day off.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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san jose, starbucks, crime, south bay news, david louie
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