The U.S. Marshals Service announced that federal investigators believe John Ruffo, a fugitive on the most-wanted list for the past 23 years, may have been among the 50,000 people who attended a Los Angeles Dodgers game in 2016.
The Marshals Service offered a $25,000 reward and issued a press release saying it’s “asking for the public’s assistance to identify a 2016 Dodgers game attendee who investigators say strongly resembles a 15 Most Wanted fugitive who has been on the run since November 1998.”
The game on Aug. 5, 2016, a 9-0 Dodgers’ loss to the Boston Red Sox, has video footage highlighting a man who looks similar to Ruffo among fans cheering behind home plate. The Marshals Service released an image that zeroes in on Ruffo in the stands. He was sitting in Section 1 Dugout Club, Row EE, Seat 10. U.S. Marshals in Virginia had gotten a tip in 2016, and an ABC News Investigates podcast recently revealed the news.
“Investigators say public assistance with the identification of this man is vital, and that if it is Ruffo, he is likely using an alias,” the U.S. Marshals office wrote.
Ruffo, now 66, was convicted in 1998 one of the largest bank fraud scams in American history – valued at $350 million. The Marshals Service called Ruffo a “master manipulator” and said about $13 million of the money Ruffo stole was never recovered. Ruffo and several other accomplices tricked the banks into financing a fake research project they claimed was for the tobacco company.
He was sentenced to 17½ years in prison but had remained free on bail. Instead of reporting to a New Jersey federal prison in November 1998, he fled via a New York airport. The last confirmed sighting of Ruffo, before the Dodgers game, was using an airport ATM at that airport in ’98.