Crime and Public Safety
Man on the run for 23 years may have been spotted at Dodger game, US Marshals say
WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — U.S. Marshals are asking for the public’s help identifying a man at a 2016 Dodgers game that investigators believe resembles a fugitive who has been on the run for more than 20 years.
The federal law enforcement agency Tuesday renewed its plea for assistance in finding the man who is on the FBI’s 15 Most Wanted list.
John Ruffo was convicted of a $350 million bank fraud scheme in 1998. The computer salesman from Brooklyn was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison, but right before he was supposed to start serving his time, he hit the road.
Authorities have released a surveillance photo of Ruffo stopping at an ATM on the day he was supposed to report to prison in New Jersey. That is the last known image of him.
On same day, Ruffo’s rented Ford Taurus was found in a parking lot at JFK Airport in New York.
Attorney Judd Burstein, who represented Ruffo after his arrest, told Dan Abram’s he was stunned when Ruffo fled.
“I was outraged because I had managed to get him out on bail for a fraction of the amount that they wanted, because he was putting up his mother’s and I believe his aunt’s house and a cousin’s house,” Burstein said. “And I argued to the prosecutors that that was better than a $20 million bond because nobody runs off and leaves their mother and their wife and their aunt homeless.”
In 2016, Ruffo’s cousin, who lives in New Hampshire, was watching the Boston Red Sox play the LA Dodgers on TV when he saw a man who resembled Ruffo sitting right behind home plate at Dodger Stadium.
Investigators say someone else bought the ticket and gave it away, so the Marshals have not been able to confirm if that man is actually Ruffo.
Burstein does not believe the man who attended the game is Ruffo.
“He was much smaller in stature,” Burstein said. “I mean, unless he’s been working out at the gym every day since he left in 1998, that’s not him.”
Burstein also says he doesn’t think Ruffo will be found.
“The guy who can go into a consortium of banks, and tell them that ‘we’re doing a deal for a secret government project involving Philip Morris and its so secret, you need to lend us $350 million and we can’t even give you the serial numbers on the computers that we’re buying that you’re supposedly secured by,'” Burstein said, “If a guy who can accomplish that and get $350 million from a bank, I suspect that running away and not being caught is a lot easier for him.”
U.S. Marshals have released an age-progression photo of what Ruffo might look like today. They are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading directly to Ruffo’s arrest.
The agency says anyone with information can contact the nearest USMS District Office, the U.S. Marshals Service Communications Center at 800-336-0102, or submit a tip using USMS Tips.
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