Home New York Press Releases 2010 FBI Celebrates 60th Anniversary of the “Top Ten” Program

FBI Celebrates 60th Anniversary of the “Top Ten” Program

FBI New York March 12, 2010
Ramzi Ahmed Yousef Paul Ragusa James Charles Kopp
Left to Right: Captured New York “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives: Ramzi Ahmed Yousef (#436), Paul Ragusa (#450), and James Charles Kopp (# 455)

Joseph Demarest, the Assistant Director-in-Charge (ADIC) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's New York Field Division ("FBI"), announced today that Sunday, March 14, 2010, marks the FBI’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” program.

The “Top Ten” program is designed to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives. It is an extremely important law enforcement tool and media involvement is crucial to its success.

The Top Ten program began from a newspaper story in late 1949. A reporter for International News Service asked the FBI for the names and descriptions of the “toughest guys” the Bureau would like to capture. The story had so much appeal and generated so much positive publicity that on March 14, 1950, former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover implemented the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program. From the time of its inception, 494 fugitives have been placed on the Top Ten list and 463 have been apprehended or located. The New York Field Division FBI has had its share of Top Ten fugitives over the years. Three of the recent ones include:

  • Ramzi Ahmed Yousef became the 436th fugitive on April 21, 1993. Yousef was wanted for masterminding the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. He was arrested in Pakistan on February 7, 1995. Yousef had fled Manila, Philippines after the foiled Bojinka plot to bomb 11 U.S. airliners. Yousef was convicted on November 12, 1997 and is currently imprisoned at the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
  • Paul Ragusa became the 450th fugitive on September 6, 1997 and was on the list for four months until he turned himself in to the authorities on January 30, 1998 in New York. Ragusa is currently serving out a 19-year sentence. Prior to turning himself in, Ragusa had cosmetic surgery in 1997 to evade capture following a racketeering indictment on June 14, 1996. He was wanted for the shooting of two security guards at a Chemical Bank branch in Maspeth, Queens, June 23, 1993; beating a burglar with a baseball bat on Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood, NY in 1990 (charges were dropped in the beating case); and for beating a stranger in the face with a stick in Ridgewood, NY in March 1989.
  • James Charles Kopp became the 455th fugitive on June 7, 1999.  He was affiliated with militant anti-abortion group "The Lambs of Christ." Kopp was captured on March 30, 2001 and convicted in 2003 for the 1998 sniper-style murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, a physician from Amherst, New York who performed abortions.   

Since initiated on March 14, 1950 under FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the Top Ten program has expanded from printed posters in post offices to digital billboards, blogs, cell phone alerts, and e-mails. ADIC Demarest said, “The Top Ten program has been a notable tool for members of our community to share vital information leading to the capture of fugitives who have committed numerous serious crimes becoming menaces to society.”

In January of this year, the FBI’s New York Office, in partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO), unveiled a digital billboard in Times Square slated to highlight wanted fugitives, missing persons, and high-priority security messages. The billboard is part of a nationwide initiative made possible through a partnership with CCO, an advertising company that’s providing the space as a public service. In honor of the 60th anniversary celebration, CCO will showcase the FBI’s current Ten Most Wanted Fugitives on their Times Square billboard. Clear Channel Outdoor - Spectacolor Division President and General Manager Harry Coghlan said, “We are proud to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and to continue our partnership with the FBI New York Office as we expand on the Clear Channel billboard initiative.”

Special Agent Richard Kolko, spokesman for the FBI in New York said, “The Clear Channel Outdoor billboard in Times Square has been a great innovation for the FBI and the New York Division. Our associates at Clear Channel Outdoor have dedicated their time and facilities to make our city and nation safer. We thank them for their support of the overall FBI mission and look forward to future joint efforts.” 

Details about today’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives are readily available all over the broadcast, print, and cyber communities from Internet sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to podcasts, cell phone applications, and digital billboards. With every technological advance, the FBI will take proactive steps to utilize all tools available to us and will continuously make the public aware of the Top Ten fugitives enabling the public to help locate them. More information about the Top Ten fugitives is available on the FBI’s Internet home page at www.fbi.gov.

For more information on the FBI’s Top Ten fugitives please visit: http://www.fbi.gov/wanted.htm.

Billboard Billboard

Clear Channel Billboard Times Square
Photo Credit: Clear Channel

Clear Channel Billboard Times Square
Photo Credit: Clear Channel

- Story: Top Ten Turns 60: The List Known 'Round the World

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