New York City Man Arrested in Kidnapping of Elderly Woman with Dementia at West L.A. Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center
LOS ANGELES – A New York man is scheduled to be in federal court this afternoon after being arrested Monday 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, 51, of Bronx, New York, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed today with one count of kidnapping, an offense that carries a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
The FBI arrested Gasca on Monday afternoon outside a Hollywood motel. The victim was rescued at the same time.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the victim was kidnapped at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Monday after attempting to obtain a medical appointment at the VA facility. The victim was accompanied by a long-time friend, and as the two of them “approached their car, Gasca appeared unexpectedly,” the affidavit states. “Gasca put his arms around [the victim] and pushed her toward a gold-colored pickup truck that was parked nearby. Gasca then picked [the victim] up and threw her into the rear portion of the truck’s passenger compartment.”
After the Department of Veteran Affairs Police Department contacted the FBI later in the morning, the victim’s friend told agents she recognized Gasca, believed he previously was in some kind of relationship with the victim, and suspected Gasca may have taken some of [the victim’s] money from her bank and retirement accounts, according to the affidavit.
The witness also reported that the victim previously noted she was missing some of her credit cards, and when the two went to the victim’s bank to review her accounts, bank records showed a $35,000 withdrawal from the victim’s retirement account, followed by a number of Venmo, MoneyGram and PayPal transactions that the friend believed the victim did not have “the knowledge or wherewithal” to conduct, the affidavit states.
Within hours of beginning its investigation, the FBI located the victim’s phone at The Dixie Hollywood Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, where agents converged. Soon after, Gasca and the victim exited the hotel, leading to Gasca’s arrest.
During an interview 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.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FBI investigated this matter and received substantial assistance from the VA Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Reidy of the Violent and Organized Crime Section is prosecuting this case.