By Jose Servin
A part-time employee of the Rancho Santiago Community College District was arrested on Thursday in connection with helping three men escape from Orange County’s largest jail six days ago, Lt. Jeff Hallock of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.
Nooshafarin Ravaghi, an ESL instructor for the district’s inmate education program was arrested along with several suspected gang members in connection with what officials described as an escape plot with help from the outside. She has been booked on charge of accessory to a felony escape from jail.
“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,” according to statement released by RSCCD officials late Thursday night.
Ravaghi is suspected of helping one of the inmates, Hossein Nayeri, obtain tools to plan the escape, including a paper printout of a Google Earth map showing the jail layout and surrounding areas, said Hallock, at a press conference Friday.
The District’s hiring practices involve a rigorous process which includes a background check conducted with the assistance of the Department of Justice, said Claudia Alvarez, President of RSCCD’s Board Trustee in an email Friday.
She added that Ravaghi was hired because aside from her clean record, she spoke multiple languages and held two masters degrees.
Ravaghi worked exclusively for the inmate education program, and had no interaction with students on any of the districts campuses, according to Alvarez.
Even though he is believed to be fluent in English, Nayeri is said to have taken classes with Ravaghi at the jail and developed a student-teacher relationship. It is unknown if their relationship was romantic.
Neither of the other two escaped inmates are thought to have had a relationship with Ravaghi.
The three fugitives, Jonathan Tieu, Bac Duong and Hossein Nayeri, escaped late last week from Orange County’s Central Men’s Jail. Sometime after 5 a.m. head count on Jan. 22, they used tools to cut through gates and wires that gave them access to vents and plumbing tunnels leading onto the roof. They then cut through barbed wire on the roof and rappelled four stories down using a makeshift rope of knotted bedsheets.
Police officials warn that the fugitives may be living out of a White 2008 GMC Savana with a license plate 8U66466, that was stolen from the Los Angeles area. They believe all three are still together.
Ravaghi will be arraigned on Monday and bail is requested at $500,000.
“I think it’s crazy. Was the teacher so miserable that she had to go out of her way to help these inmates escape? If she cared about the safety of the students in Santa Ana she would not have done that,” Celia Carballo, Santiago Canyon College student, said.