Teacher Had ‘Significant Role' in Jail Escape, Investigators Say

Nooshafarin Ravaghi has been teaching English-as-a-second-language classes at the jail since July 2015, according to the sheriff's department

A teacher at Central Men's Jail in Orange County, California, had a "significant role" in the planning of a jailbreak that set off a weeklong manhunt for three inmate fugitives, one of whom developed a relationship with the woman, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Updated Article: No Charges for Teacher in Jailbreak

The 44-year-old Lake Forest woman was arrested Thursday on suspicion of accessory to a felony in helping the inmates escape from lockup in downtown Santa Ana. She allegedly provided the men with Google Earth maps of the jail complex, according to investigators.

Nooshafarin Ravaghi, who works for the Rancho Santiago Community College District, has been teaching English-as-a-second-language classes at the jail for about 18 months, according to the department. She is also an associate faculty member at Saddleback College, according to the Mission Viejo college's website.

Ravaghi's arraignment is scheduled for Monday. It was not immediately clear whether she obtained an attorney.

One of the escaped inmates, Hossein Nayeri, 37, of Newport Beach, took her class at the Central Men's Jail and developed a relationship with Ravaghi, said Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock.

"It was initially a student-teacher relationship, and then it developed into a closer relationship," Hallock said. "It is believed Ravaghi directly contributed to the escape of the three inmates and provided critical planning tools that aided in their preparation for the escape."

The exact nature of her alleged assistance was still being investigated, but she is believed to have provided information such as Google Maps to Nayeri, the alleged mastermind of the escape. Hallock said Ravaghi has denied providing Nayeri with any tools used in the escape.

"She played a significant role in the planning," Hallock said.

Hallock said the extent of the relationship Nayeri developed with Ravaghi was still unclear.

Ravaghi's job at the jail required a security clearance and a three-hour class for contracted employees. The class involved rules about inmates and "manipulation techniques" that inmates might use on employees, Hallock said. Contracted employees also are instructed to report whether any inmate requests information, Hallock added.

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Nayeri disappeared from the jail early Friday, along with Jonathan Tieu,  20, of Fountain Valley, and Bac Duong, 43, of Santa Ana. Duong surrendered to authorities Friday morning.

"We are continuing to be frustrated by this, but are continuing to work around the clock," Hallock said Friday.

OC sheriff's SWAT units raided two locations in Westminster Thursday  evening in a fruitless search for the three escapees, a news videographer reported from the scenes.

One of the locations, he said, was a business located at Jackson Street  and Westminster Boulevard and a reported hangout for some of the escapees. Nine people were at least temporarily detained at that location. The second raid, he said, took place in an industrial area at Garden Grove Boulevard and Hoover  Street.

No arrests or detentions were reported there.

Hallock said around 10 people have been arrested since the escape a week  ago Friday. Several other arrests — for unrelated warrants or probation issues — have also taken place during the manhunt. Hallock said investigators believe the escaped inmates stole a white GMC Savana utility van in the South Los Angeles area on Saturday, and the inmates may be living out of it.

Although only Duong was seen on Saturday with the van, "based on other  information we have we feel very strongly that they may still all three be together," Hallock said. The van has paper license plates from Felix Chevrolet, with plate number 8U66466, although the plates may have been removed and replaced.

The three inmates disappeared after a 5 a.m. body count in the jail, but they were not discovered missing until close to 9 p.m., when the second daily body count was conducted. Nayeri had been in custody since September 2014, Tieu  since October 2013 and Duong since December.

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said Wednesday she suspects Nayeri was the "mastermind" of the breakout based on his military training in the U.S. Armed  Forces.

The search for the escaped inmates has focused heavily on a Vietnamese gang active in Westminster and Garden Grove.

On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors quadrupled the reward  for information that leads to the inmates' recapture, boosting it to $200,000. The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service pledged the initial $50,000.

Nayeri is accused of participating in an attack, including torture, against a Newport Beach resident who ran a licensed marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana. Tieu faces murder and attempted murder charges in connection with a gang hit. Duong faces an attempted murder charge and was being held without  bail on an immigration hold pending a possible federal deportation hearing.

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