Law enforcement in the United States is wondering if a long-sought fugitive was chilling behind the plate at a Los Angeles Dodgers game in 2016.
John Ruffo has been named as one of the 15 most-wanted fugitives by U.S. Marshals. He disappeared in 1998 before he was supposed to start serving a 17-year jail sentence for robbing banks of $353 million dollars.
Officials got a tip that a man seen at the game was the Brooklyn computer salesman.
“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?” Deputy Marshal Danielle Shimchick, lead investigator in the case, told ABC News.
Ruffo would now be 66 years old, and it’s believed he escaped with around $13 million.
Ruffo’s cousin, Carmine Pascale, said in 2016, he was watching a Dogers-Red Sox game on television when he saw a face that looked familiar a few rows behind home plate, according to the New York Post.
“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.”
Deputy Marshal Pat Valdenor found the resemblance strong and turned to the Dodgers for help in trying to track down the fan.
“It does look like him. It could be him. So that was my starting point. That was the lead that I got,” said Valdenor, who contacted Dodgers risk management chief Michelle Darringer.
“Our receptionist called me saying, ‘There are US Marshals here. They want to see you,’ Darringer told ABC News. “I do remember them telling me that he was one of the most wanted persons. … It was a tip that this person had been at the game, and they needed to try to confirm that.”
But the original ticket holder had given the ticket away to someone else, and they were unable to find out the identity of the man on television.