A well-known professor at Tyler Junior College was arrested last Wednesday on charges of theft, fabricating physical evidence and fraud.
According to authorities, the suspect, Dr. Manoucher Khosrowshahi, 59, stole merchandise from Walmart at 5050 Troup Highway in Tyler.
Don Martin, public information officer for the Tyler Police Department, said that Dr. Khosrowshahi was putting homemade barcodes on items, then taking them to the register. Dr. Khosrowshahi had four items, totaling $45.22 in value - rice, LED bulbs, boxer shorts and olive oil.
Martin said Khosrowshahi had enough cash on hand to pay for all the items.
Walmart loss prevention officials confronted Khosrowshahi after he purchased the items and detained him.
"In that process of detaining him, he started taking other barcodes that he had on him and attempted to destroy them by eating them. So therefore there was another charge that he was committing by tampering with evidence," Martin said.
According to TJC public information officer Fred Peters, Dr. Khosrowshahi, better known to students as "Dr. K," sent a letter Thursday morning announcing his retirement, effective immediately. Dr. Khosrowshahi cited physical and mental health concerns in the letter.
Dr. K.'s website touted him as the "Texas Professor of the Year."
"If you said Dr. K. around campus, you knew exactly who he was," said former student Nicole Trammell.
Trammell took two of Khosrowshahi's classes and said she couldn't believe the news.
"I was shocked. I really was. Because when you meet him and you have him as your teacher, he was just the nicest guy, so I would have never thought that he was capable of doing something like that," she said. "I enjoyed his classes, and if I had to do it over again I would definitely choose him to be my teacher for government."
Dr. Khosrowshahi had previously arrested for theft in the 1980s, twice in Austin and once in Denton. Because of the previous convictions, the charge was increased to a state jail felony.
Peters offered no comment when asked if TJC officials were concerned about the previous charges.
Dr. Khosrowshahi had been a professor of political science at TJC since 1987 where he founded the Middle East Center. He is also a Fulbright scholar and has been nominated twice for the Carnegie Foundation's U.S. Professors of the Year Program.
Through TJC, Dr. Khosrowshahi had offered several trips for students and community members each year to Turkey. His next trip is scheduled for March. Peters said Thursday that TJC officials are working with Dr. Khosrowshahi to determine whether the trip will continue, and if it does not, that they will try to offer a complete refund to participants.
Dr. Khosrowshahi was released last Thursday on a $15,000 surety bond.
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