California Chemist Charged in Starbucks Poisoning Attempt

PHOTO: Ramineh Behbehanian was arrested in San Jose, Calif. for attempted murder after she put poison in an orange juice container at at Starbucks on April 29, 2013.
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The woman accused of putting tainted bottles of orange juice in a Starbucks refrigerated display is a professional chemist, said police who also told ABC News that she is refusing to respond to police questioning about why she allegedly put poisoned bottles in reach of customers.

Ramineh Behbehanian, 50, of San Jose, Calif., works in the research and development department of a pharmaceutical subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

Poisoned OJ Slipped Into Starbucks Cold Case

San Jose Police Department spokesman Officer Albert Morales told ABC News that Behbehanian refused to speak to officers following her arrest and requested an attorney.

"There is no information at this time that there were any associates," said Morales. "We're searching for answers."

Greg Panico, a spokesman for the J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals confirmed to ABC News that Behbehanian was currently an employee in the company's research and development department in Fremont, Calif.,

Panico could not confirm how long she has worked for Janssen. According to her LinkedIn profile, she has been there since August 2006, and has expertise in "drug delivery and controlled release technologies," among other things.

Her LinkedIn profile also states that she has a master's degree in physical chemistry and chemical engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. The university did not immediately respond to ABC News' attempts to verify Behbehanian's educational history.

Behbehanian was booked on charges of attempted murder and poisoning for allegedly swapping bottles of a Starbucks-owned orange juice brand with contaminated bottles from her purse. She was arrested Monday after a customer in a San Jose Starbucks spotted her switching bottles, said police.

As the witness was notifying Starbucks employees of the woman's suspicious activity, police said, the suspect apparently overheard the conversation and fled.

The San Jose Fire Department responded to the store after Starbucks employees examined the bottles and found the contents had a toxic smell to them. The bottles were tested with hazardous materials equipment and were found to contain a mixture of isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol, police said.

A Starbucks employee was able to record the license plate of the woman's car. Later Monday evening, Behbehanian was taken into custody after she was found to be the owner of the car leaving the scene, police said.

Starbucks spokesman Zach Hutson said no one consumed the contaminated juice and that all of the juice in the store was destroyed "out of an abundance of caution." Hutson said that other stores in the area were asked to check juice bottles' safety seals to make sure they weren't tampered with.

Behbehanian is being held without bail at Elmwood Complex Women's Facility in Milpitas, Calif. Her arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, Morales said.

It is unclear if Behbehanian has an attorney.

ABC News' Rachel Katz contributed reporting.

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