Public health professor arrested, released Monday

An associate professor in the College of Public Health was arrested at 11:30 a.m. Monday at a JC Penney and charged with retail theft, according to a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office incident report.

Yangxin Huang, 51, was at the store’s Shops at Wiregrass location when he was arrested by Deputy Anthony Justice, who filed the report. Huang left the store with four pairs of earrings, valued at $299, that he did not pay for, according to the report.

In the report, Justice said he arrived on the scene after Huang had been detained by the store’s loss prevention officer, who said he watched Huang select several pairs of earrings from the rack and place his hands in his pockets several times before walking to a location near the store’s exit where he began speaking into a cell phone.

When Huang stepped out of the store, the officer approached him and escorted him to the store’s Loss Prevention Office, according to the report. When Justice arrived, he read Huang his Miranda rights.

According to the report, Justice said Huang told him he had been in the store to purchase several gifts for his family in anticipation of a trip to China next month. He made several selections and began trying to contact his wife on his cell phone for approval of the gifts.

He said he could not get a cell phone signal and moved closer to the door. When he still could not get a signal, Huang exited the store.

“Yangxin stated he did not even think about not paying for the items before stepping outside,” Justice said in his report. “(He) stated he had some (items) in his pocket because he could not hold them all and the phone.”

Huang told Justice if he had been trying to steal the items he would not have lingered on the sidewalk outside the store, according to the report.

USF Health public affairs officer Anne Baier said she could not comment on Huang’s arrest, but confirmed he worked with the College of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Huang was released from the Land O’ Lakes Jail on $150 bail the same day of his arrest.