Orange County jail escape: ESL teacher to be charged with being accessory

The teacher accused of aiding the men who broke out of the Orange County jail had completed a training course in which she was instructed not to have personal contact with inmates and how not to be manipulated by them, Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock said Friday.

Nooshafarin Ravaghi, 44, of Lake Forest, will be arraigned Monday and charged with being an accessory in a felony. She is accused of helping Hossein Nayeri, Jonathan Tieu and Bac Duong escape from the Orange County Central Jail last Friday. Nayeri, a former U.S. Marine who spoke English, took an ESL class taught by Ravaghi in the jail.

“Their relationship was much more personal than it should have been,” Hallock said. The Sheriff’s Department will recommend that her bail be set at $500,000.

Hallock said Ravaghi is accused of providing a printout of a Google map that showed the roof of the jail. Ravaghi and Nayeri may also have had contact via mail, he said.

“It’s common knowledge that the inmates, especially somebody facing a significant amount of time, are going to use whatever they can and manipulation is a typical tactic they use to get something that they want,” Hallock said. “That’s something that we discuss in that class that they’re made well aware of going into it. That’s why it’s important at any time that if they feel like they’re being asked a certain question or information is trying to be gained from them they’re supposed to report that to staff immediately.”

“Even if he was asking her questions it would have violated our policy.”

Hallock said Ravaghi did not report any contact with Nayeri to deputies.

The inmates are still at large. Hallock said investigators believe the fugitives are still in the Southern California area and may be living in a stolen utility van. On Saturday, Duong answered a for-sale advertisement for a white GMC Savanna, took the car for a test drive and didn’t return the car, Hallock said. The van’s license plate number is 8U66466.

“It’s very important that we locate this van,” Hallock said.

Investigators believe a Vietnamese gang and other Vietnamese organized crime suspects may be connected to the fugitives.

Ravaghi’s website says she got a master’s degree from Cal State Fullerton in “education – teaching English to speakers of other languages.” Cal State Fullerton confirmed that Ravaghi earned a degree in education with a certificate for ESL in 2013. She is listed as an ESL teacher at several institutions, including Saddleback College.

Since 2007, Ravaghi also has worked part time with elementary schoolchildren through Professional Tutors of America. Robert Gordon, the Brea-based company’s chief executive, said Ravaghi has a reputation of being a good tutor who received positive reviews from the families with whom she worked. Gordon noted that all of his company’s tutors go through extensive background checks.

Ravaghi started working at the jail through the Rancho Santiago Community College District Inmate Education Program.

The district released this statement: “Ms. Ravaghi began working for the program in fall of 2014 and had undergone a background check by the Sheriff’s Department before her part-time assignment began. RSCCD is working closely with the Sheriff’s Department to provide whatever information they require.”

Anyone who spots the escapees should call 911, authorities said. Anyone with information about their whereabouts can contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-628-7085.

Staff writers Alma Fausto and Alyssa Duranty contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply