ESL teacher at OC jail arrested on suspicion of providing key materials to 3 escaped inmates

ByGabrielle Moreira KABC logo
Friday, January 29, 2016
Teacher at OC jail arrested on suspicion of helping 3 inmates escape
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Authorities arrested a woman believed to have provided key materials to three inmates who escaped the Orange County Central Men's Jail on Jan. 22.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Authorities arrested a woman believed to have provided key materials to three inmates who escaped the Orange County Central Men's Jail.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department announced the arrest Thursday and said "upwards" of 10 arrests had been made in connection to the escape, which includes five arrests made on Wednesday.

Several other arrests would also be made Thursday involving parole and probation violations, authorities said.

MORE: Reward rises to $200,000 in Orange County jail escape

OCSD Lt. Jeff Hallock said around 3 p.m., an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher who had worked for the jail since July 2015 had been taken into custody.

Nooshafarin Ravaghi, 44, of Lake Forest, is suspected of directly contributing to the escape of the inmates and providing planning tools, such as Google Maps of the facility, which helped the trio.

Ravaghi is currently employed by the Rancho Santiago Community College District as a part-time ESL teacher since late 2014, according to Hallock and the district.

An updated photo of Hossein Nayeri, one of the three inmates, was also released by the sheriff's department Thursday morning.

Nayeri, along with Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43, escaped the prison last Friday using an elaborate plan that involved cutting through steel bars and plumbing tunnels, and rappelling down the building from the jail's roof.

Hossein Nayeri, 37 (L), Jonathan Tieu, 20 (C), and Bac Duong, 43 (R), are shown in undated mugshots provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Hallock said Nayeri attended several of Ravaghi's classes and authorities are investigating the extent of their relationship.

"All we know is that there was some type of relationship that developed between the two as a result of initially (what) was a student-teacher relationship and it developed into a close relationship where she then began providing him information," Hallock said.

Ravaghi had not been booked into Orange County Jail as of 5 p.m. and the charges she faces were not released. Hallock said she was providing investigators with information, but denied bringing in professional tools.

A photo of the exterior of the Orange County Central Men's Jail, which was built in 1968 and currently houses over 900 male inmates.
Orange County Sheriff's Department

During a Wednesday press conference, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said investigators were looking into the possibility that the inmates received help from someone on the outside as well as from anyone inside the facility. She added the tools used to cut through steel bars were professional and not made in jail.

The trio were last accounted for at 5 a.m. on Jan. 22, and their disappearance went unnoticed until 16 hours later when an evening count was conducted.

Hutchens said she and other investigators believe that Nayeri, 37, is the mastermind behind the escape plan because of his military background. He had been in custody since September 2014 and faced charges for kidnapping and torture, among other charges.

MORE: Eyewitness News gets exclusive look at inmates' elaborate escape route

Tieu and Duong, both known gang members, had been in custody since October 2013 and December 2015, respectively. Tieu faced such charges as murder and attempted murder, while Duong faced charges for attempted murder, among others.

Authorities said Duong was last spotted on Saturday in the south end of Los Angeles and stole a 2008 white GMC Savana utility car that was for sale.

A private owner advertised the vehicle and Duong had responded to it, authorities said. He test drove the van, came back and at some point took off with it, Hallock said.

The license plate on the van is 8U66466, but Hallock said the plates may have been removed and replaced with yellow or green Felix Chevrolet paper plates. Authorities believe the three suspects are still together and may be living in the van.

Anyone with information on the inmates' whereabouts was urged to call the OCSD hotline at (714) 628-7085. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call OC Crime Stoppers at (855) 847-6227.