Guy Spotted at Dodgers Game Wasn't Actually Fugitive

Authorities had sought public's help in search for John Ruffo, on the run for 23 years
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2021 2:00 AM CDT
Updated Oct 9, 2021 7:00 AM CDT
Most Wanted Fugitive May Have Attended a Dodgers Game
Last known image of John Ruffo, left, and an age progression of Ruffo, right.   (US Marshals Service)

Update: Sorry, it's not him. That's the final word from authorities on a mystery man spotted at a 2016 MLB game who looked just like a fugitive who's been on the run for 23 years. The US Marshals Service says the man seen in video footage at a Los Angeles Dodgers game five years ago did bear a "strong resemblance" to John Ruffo, "convicted in one of the largest bank fraud scams in American history," per USA Today. But a tipster came forward with info on the man that dashed hopes of nabbing the most-wanted Ruffo. "US Marshals ... confirmed the identity of the attendee and determined that he is not John Ruffo," a release notes. Marshals Deputy Pat Valdenor met with the man and his family and fingerprinted him, per KABC. "Even without the fingerprints, there was the birth certificate, and I had his whole family in front of me—three generations," Valdenor says. "I could see it wasn't Ruffo." Our original story from Wednesday follows:

For 23 years, authorities have been hunting John Ruffo, who never showed up to serve his 17.5-year prison sentence for a $353 million bank fraud scheme. Now, authorities say the fugitive—one of the US Marshals' 15 most wanted—may have been spotted ... at a baseball game ... in 2016. As CNN explains, the tip first came in September 2016, alleging that Ruffo was at the August 5, 2016, game between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Based on the information given, the US Marshals Service narrowed down the seat to Section 1 Dugout Club, Row EE, Seat 10, but they have not yet been able to identify the man wearing a blue shirt who sat there, other than to confirm he looks like Ruffo. A reward of up to $25,000 is now being offered for information leading to his arrest.

He was captured on camera during the LA game, which was televised, ABC News reports. Authorities are asking anyone with information on the man in that seat to submit a tip to the US Marshals Service at 877-WANTED2, or by visiting a district office or using the app or website. Authorities believe Ruffo, who would now be 66, has likely assumed a new identity after fleeing with an estimated $13 million. The last confirmed sighting of him was at a New York City ATM in 1998, out on bond on the day before he was supposed to report to prison. His car was later found at the city's JFK Airport. As for the Dodgers' seat, it was passed through so many hands after the original owner purchased the ticket, authorities were unable to figure out who ultimately used it. (More fugitive stories.)

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