A 51-year-old man was arrested on July 19 on a kidnapping charge stemming from his alleged abduction of a 68-year-old woman with dementia at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Johnny Ray Gasca, of Bronx, New York, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on July 20 with one count of kidnapping, an offense that carries a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison. The FBI arrested Gasca on Monday outside the Dixie Hollywood Hotel near Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, and rescued the victim.
According to an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the victim was kidnapped at approximately 8:30 a.m. on July 19 after attempting to obtain a medical appointment at the VA facility. The victim was accompanied by a longtime friend, and as the two approached their car, Gasca unexpectedly appeared, according to the affidavit.
“Gasca put his arms around [the victim] and pushed her toward a gold-colored pickup truck that was parked nearby,” the affidavit read. “Gasca then picked [the victim] up and threw her into the rear portion of the truck’s passenger compartment.”
The Department of Veteran Affairs Police Department was alerted and contacted the FBI. The victim’s friend told agents she recognized Gasca as someone with whom the victim had previously been in a relationship. The friend suspected Gasca may have taken money from the victim’s bank and retirement accounts, according to the affidavit.
The friend also reported that the victim previously told her she was missing some of her credit cards, federal authorities said. When Gasca and the alleged victim went to the bank to review accounts, records allegedly showed a $35,000 withdrawal from the victim’s retirement account, followed by Venmo, MoneyGram and PayPal transactions that the friend believed the victim did not have “the knowledge or wherewithal” to conduct, the affidavit read.
Within hours of beginning its investigation, the FBI located the victim’s phone as being at the Dixie Hollywood Hotel and converged on the building. Soon after, Gasca and the victim exited the hotel and the suspect was taken into custody.
Federal authorities said that during an interview, which was recounted in the affidavit, Gasca described the victim as his girlfriend and told agents that after leaving the VA facility, they stopped at a bank where the victim made a $15,000 withdrawal.
The case remains under investigation by the FBI and the Department of Veteran Affairs Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Reidy, of the Violent and Organized Crime Section, is prosecuting the case.
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