Teacher Not Charged in California Prison Escape

PHOTO: Nooshafarin Ravaghi, a 44-year-old teacher at the Orange County Central Mens Jail, was arrested for allegedly helping three inmates escape. PlayOrange County Sheriff's Department
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The 44-year-old jail teacher arrested in connection with the escape of three maximum-security inmates at a California lockup will be released today, Orange County Prosecutor Tony Rackauckas said in a news conference.

“At this time, there is insufficient evidence to charge her with any crime," Rackauckas said of Nooshafarin Ravaghi.

She's being released on her own recognizance, although required to turn in her passport until the investigation is complete, officials said.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department said last week that Ravaghi played a "significant role" in the jailbreak and accused her of providing the inmates with a printed photograph from Google Earth that would have shown an image the entire jail complex. Ravaghi had denied providing the inmates with tools that would have enabled them to cut through their steel cell bars, the Sheriff's Department said Thursday.

The Lake Forest, California, resident was arrested Thursday on charges of accessory to felony for allegedly aiding the inmates in their prison break from the Orange County Central Men's Jail, the Sheriff's Department said.

Ravaghi worked as an English as a Second Language teacher at the Orange County Central Men's Jail, police said. One of the inmates, 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri, took her class, and police described their relationship as "close" and "personal," Lt. Jeff Hallock said Friday morning.

Investigators found letters Nayeri wrote to Ravaghi, but there isn't any information that would determine the relationship was romantic, Hallock said.

"[It's] not the kind of relationship you’d expect from a teacher and inmate in custody," Hallock said.

Nayeri speaks English, so police are curious about why he was taking the class, Hallock said. But it is not unusual for people who speak English as a first language to take the class, the Sheriff's Department told ABC News Thursday night.

Security clearance from July 2015 shows Ravaghi first entering the jail from where the inmates escaped, police said. Clearance to work in the jail included a background check and a three-hour class on jail policy, which Ravaghi completed.

Had inmates requested any information from Ravaghi, she would been required to notify jail staff in accordance with jail policy, Hallock said.

Ravaghi also taught English as a Second Language classes at the Rancho Santiago Community College in Santa Ana, California, police said. She describes herself as an adjunct professor on her LinkedIn page.

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Police believe the inmates had both inside and outside help in their escape. The eldest of the three, 43-year-old Bac Tien Duong, was arrested Friday on a street in Santa Ana, California around 11:45 a.m. local time after turning himself in, the Sheriff's Department said.

The other escaped inmates, 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu and 37-year-old Hoseein Nayer, were apprehended Saturday morning after officers in San Francisco's Park District were alerted by a citizen to a "suspicious" person and car, the San Francisco Police Department said.

PHOTO: The Orange County Sheriffs Department posted images, Jan. 28, 2016, following the escape of three inmates with the message: Stolen Vehicle ACTUAL 2008 White GMC Savana Utility Lic: 8U66466 plates/stickers may have been removed. Orange County Sheriffs Department
The Orange County Sheriff's Department posted images, Jan. 28, 2016, following the escape of three inmates with the message: "Stolen Vehicle ACTUAL 2008 White GMC Savana Utility Lic: 8U66466 plates/stickers may have been removed."

It was not immediately clear whether Ravaghi had obtained a lawyer.

Meanwhile, authorities have charged a man named Loc Ba Nguyen with aiding the prisoners escape and smuggling weapons into the jail, prosecutor Rackauckas said.

Lt. Hallock of the Orange County Sheriff's Department said today, “We also feel very strongly or know for a fact that he was heavily involved” in the planning of the escape.

Investigators believe Ba Nguyen has a connection to Duong, Hallock said. He had visited the jail, but it is not known whether he smuggled items into the jail at that time.