The US Marshals have confirmed an LA Dodgers fan is not most-wanted criminal John Ruffo, after investigators managed to track down and fingerprint the man spotted in the crowd at a 2016 baseball game.
The man, whose real identity has not been revealed, was ruled out Thursday as the fugitive who has been on the run for the last 23 years for a $350 million bank fraud scheme and is on the agency’s 15 Most Wanted list.
The confirmation came just two days after authorities asked for help in identifying a man sitting in the stands at the televised game on August 5 2016.
The man bore a ‘strong resemblance’ to the wanted felon with Ruffo’s own cousin first reporting the tip to authorities back in September 2016.
The US Marshals have confirmed an LA Dodgers fan (left) is not most-wanted criminal John Ruffo (right)
Investigators managed to track down and fingerprint the man spotted in the crowd at a 2016 baseball game (seen in the blue shirt)
A relative of the person sitting four rows back from the home plate at the 2016 Boston Red Sox and LA Dodgers baseball game contacted the US Marshals Tuesday night, according to ABC News.
They told investigators it was their family member in the image and not the 66-year-old fugitive.
To confirm the man’s true identity, investigators traveled to meet him in person.
They took his fingerprints and carried out a background check, which ruled him out completely.
‘US Marshals in the Districts of Eastern Virginia and Central California confirmed the identity of the attendee and determined that he is not John Ruffo,’ the US Marshals said in a press release.
The agency announced this week that investigators were tipped off in September 2016 about a man who closely resembled Ruffo seen in footage of the game broadcast on TV.
Ruffo’s cousin told ABC News he first reported the possible sighting after spotting a familiar face sitting in the crowd.
Authorities this week asked for help in identifying the man sitting in the stands at the televised game on August 5 2016 who bore a ‘strong resemblance’ to the wanted felon
‘I’m watching and right behind home plate, they did a close up of the batter and there’s Johnny,’ he said.
‘And I said, ‘Holy Christ, there he is. And I immediately called the Marshals. I froze the frame, kept it right in front of me.’
In the footage, a white, balding man with a mustache and wearing a blue shirt is seen sitting four rows behind the home plate.
Investigators narrowed down the seat to Section 1 Dugout Club, Row EE, Seat 10 and tracked down the person who bought the tickets to the seats.
However, the investigation stalled, as it turned out the tickets had changed hands multiple times, leading the US Marshals to issue the plea for the public’s help.
Ruffo was convicted of a $353 million bank fraud and sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison in 1998, but fled with $13 million
Ruffo, now 66, was convicted in 1998 of one of the largest bank fraud scams in American history.
The former computer salesman set up a fraudulent scheme to defraud US and foreign banks out of $353 million.
He was sentenced to 17 and a half years in Virginia but was released on $10 million bond and ordered to report to a federal prison in New Jersey in that November.
Ruffo failed to show up and has been on the run ever since – with an estimated $13 million in funds that was never recovered from the scheme.
The last confirmed sighting of the fugitive was the day he was due to report to prison when he was captured on surveillance footage withdrawing money from an ATM in Queens, New York City.
Investigators found a rental car he was driving parked at John F. Kennedy Airport.
While there have been numerous reported sightings of Ruffo over the years, none have been confirmed and none were more promising than the Dodgers’ lead.
The last confirmed sighting of the fugitive was the day he was due to report to prison when he was captured on surveillance footage withdrawing money from an ATM in Queens, New York City (above)
Ruffo in the surveillance footage. Investigators found he was driving a car that he parked at John F. Kennedy Airport
The US Marshals believe Ruffo is going by a new identity and previously went by numerous aliases known to the US Marshals, including Joseph Ruffo, John Russo, Jack Nitz, Bruce Gregory, John Peters and Charles Sanders.
He is five feet and six inches and weighed about 170 pounds in 1998.
He is described by investigators as a ‘master manipulator’ and a storyteller who ‘liked to stretch the truth,’ with a ‘desire to impress others.’
Investigators added that he is lactose intolerant, computer savvy and enjoys fine wines, gambling, and nice hotels.
It is likely Ruffo is living abroad as he has strong international business connections, had traveled to Aruba in the past and had a fondness for Italy.
US authorities are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information that leads to his arrest.
Ruffo’s case is the subject of an ABC News podcast series Have You Seen This Man.
The US Marshals Most Wanted poster for Joh Ruffo. While there have been numerous reported sightings of Ruffo over the years, none have been confirmed