The FBI is reaching out to the public for their help in a strange case. John Ruffo, a fugitive who has been on the Most Wanted List for 23 years, was spotted at a Dodgers game. Police have issued a reward for anyone who knows where he is.
According to U.S. Marshals, they received a tip that a man resembling John Ruffo was spotted at a Dodgers game back in August 2016. The man was wearing a blue shirt and sitting four rows above home plate.
John Ruffo would be 66-years-old now, and that sighting would be the first one since he was caught on ATM footage back in 1998. Public and police officers alike are wondering how this wanted man was able to hide in plain sight for so long.
It was Ruffo’s cousin, Carmine Pascale, who gave U.S. Marshals the tip. He just couldn’t believe that the man on his TV was his fugitive cousin.
“I’m watching and right behind home plate, they did a close-up of the batter and there’s Johnny. And I said, ‘Holy Christ, there he is!’” the New Hampshire man told ABC News. “And I immediately called the Marshals. I froze the frame, kept it right in front of me.”
John Ruffo disappeared back in 1998 after being charged with bank fraud. He was due to spend 17 years in prison for stealing $353 million in Virginia. He was told to report to prison on November, 9, 1998, but never showed up for his sentence.
Police believe that John Ruffo disappeared with $13 million of his stolen money.
The following day, police discovered that the wanted man had drove a rental car to JFK International Airport. They found the car, but Ruffo had vanished. Police believe that if the man at the baseball game is Ruffo than he is probably using an alias.
Following the tip, U.S. Marshalls contacted the Dodgers’ office to find out who had bought the seat. Ruffo was allegedly sitting in Section 1 Dugout Club, Row EE, Seat 10, but according to records the person who had paid for that ticket had given it away.
The cold case has become the subject of the ABC podcast Have You Seen This Man? and is leaving many listeners wondering about the unbelievable story.
“The ones that are the worst are when you have no resolution. That’s what bothers me, is that you just don’t know, is that him or not? The Dodgers footage, is that him? Is that Ruffo? Or is it not?,” said Deputy Marshal Danielle Shimchick, the lead investigator on the Ruffo case.
According to officers, Ruffo had a lot of international friends. It was believed he fled the country. Before he disappeared, the computer salesman had traveled to Aruba and had taken a liking to Italy.
“He is known to be computer savvy and enjoys fine wines, gambling, and nice hotels,” the news release said. “He is reportedly lactose-intolerant. Ruffo was known to be a storyteller, someone who liked to stretch the truth, and had a desire to impress others. He has been called a master manipulator.”
According to Ruffo’s ex-wife, Linda Lausten, her former husband’s disappearance was really hard on her and her mother-in-law.
In a 2018 interview with NBC News she said, “I cried for a year, every day. I had a rash on my face where the tears came down. I want to face him,” Lausten continued. “I want to tell him how bad he hurt his mother and everybody else. I’d like to ask him: ‘When did you stop loving me? What happened? When did money become so important that you could do this to us?’”
U.S. Marshals are asking anyone with information on John Ruffo to come forward. People who have substantive information will be given a $25,000 reward. Officers say that information can be left at a local U.S. Marshals district office or people can call 877-WANTED2 or leave information at the agency’s app or website.