Feds thought man at Dodgers game could be fugitive wanted for 23 years

Wanted poster for John Ruffo
Wanted poster for John Ruffo Photo credit U.S. Marshals Service

Federal police had high hopes the public might help them track down a wanted man who's been hiding from authorities for more than two decades. Investigators got a tip that someone spotted their suspect in the crowd at a Los Angeles Dodgers game.

U.S. Marshals suspected the man spotted behind home plate during the September 2016 game could be John Ruffo, a convicted felon on the “15 Most Wanted” list who’s been on the run for 23 years.

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A court convicted Ruffo to more than 17 years in prison for defrauding a bank out of $350 million in November 1998.

Seen as a flight risk, a judge set bail at $10 million. Family members put their homes up as collateral to ensure his release, but Ruffo never turned himself in with the Marshals Service.

The federal government seized his relatives’ homes and evicted them, leaving them homeless. Additionally, the U.S. government recovered all but $13 million of the money Ruffo stole, CNN reported.

The case went cold after police lost track of Ruffo. The Marshals Service, which carries out police operations for federal courts, disclosed it last spotted Ruffo on an ATM security camera, withdrawing cash in 1998.

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Investigators thought they had a lead but said relatives of the Los Angeles man seen in the crowd contacted them to verify he was not their wanted fugitive.

The doppelgänger at Dodger Stadium resembled Ruffo so closely, one of Ruffo’s family members called in the initial tip, marshals revealed. The agency said it reached out to the man seated in the Section 1 Dugout Club, Row EE, Seat 10. Police fingerprinted him to verify his identity, said ABC7.

Federal police believe Ruffo may currently live outside the U.S., citing his connections overseas.

Marshals have offered a $25,000 reward for information that helps them arrest Ruffo.