Johnny Ray Gasca charged with one count of kidnapping in connection to July 19 kidnapping
By Sam Catanzaro
A New York man faces up to life in prison for 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 July 20 with one count of kidnapping, an offense that carries a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison, according to the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Central District of California (DOJ).
The FBI arrested Gasca on Monday afternoon outside a Hollywood motel and also rescued the victim 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 VA police 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”, according to the DOJ. In addition, the friend suspected Gasca may have taken some of [the victim’s] money from her bank and retirement accounts, the affidavit states.
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, according to the affidavit.
“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,” the DOJ wrote in a press release. “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.”
The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System provided the following statement in regards to the incident:
“VA appreciates the diligence of investigators and will continue to support the FBI in their fact finding efforts as this investigation unfolds.”