Upon further review, one of the most wanted fugitives in the country did not spend a day in 2016 behind home plate at a Los Angeles Dodgers game.
The U.S. Marshals told KABC that a Dodgers fan they believed could be John Ruffo, who has been on the run since 1998 for his role in a $350 million bank-fraud scheme, is in fact not Ruffo. The agency had previously issued a call for assistance in identifying the man:
The U.S. Marshals Service is 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: https://t.co/NVyynDdiFc pic.twitter.com/pZD8XiQOxQ
— U.S. Marshals (@USMarshalsHQ) October 6, 2021
Per KABC, the Marshals believed the fan to be Ruffo after one of Ruffo's relatives called in a tip after seeing a strong resemblance. Due to the magic of ticket resales, they could not find the man through his ticket purchase alone, hence the public request for help.
After the call was issued, a person from Los Angeles reportedly came forward to the Marshals and identified the man in the photo as a family member. That led to a meeting between Marshals deputy Pat Valdenor and the man and his family in Los Angeles.
After a fingerprint check to confirm his identity, the man was cleared:
"You can clearly see the difference between the fingerprints," Valdenor told ABC News. "Even without the fingerprints, there was the birth certificate, and I had his whole family in front of me - three generations. I could see it wasn't Ruffo."
The search for Ruffo will now go on, with the fugitive probably now aware that he should avoid sitting behind home plate at a televised baseball game for three hours. Ruffo has been on the run since disappearing from a parking lot at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport rather than turn himself in for a 17-and-a-half year prison sentence.
Ruffo is believed to have numerous international ties and could be living overseas. There remains a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.