LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A New York man faces charges of kidnapping a 68-year-old woman with dementia from the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Johnny Ray Gasca, 51, of Bronx, New York appeared in court Tuesday on a federal charge of kidnapping. He did not enter a plea Tuesday and was ordered held without bond, Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said.READ MORE: Crews Work To Contain Antonio Fire Burning In Angeles National Forest
According to an affidavit, the woman was with a long-time friend at the West Los Angeles facility trying to get a medical appointment when Gasca appeared as they approached their car.
Gasca put his arms around the victim and pushed her toward a gold-colored pickup truck parked nearby, then picked her up and threw her into the rear portion of the truck’s passenger compartment, the affidavit said. The woman’s friend told FBI agents that she recognized the Gasca as someone who previously had a relationship with the unidentified woman, and may have taken money from her bank and her retirement accounts, according to the affidavit.READ MORE: OC School Board Votes To Sue Newsom Over Mask Rule For Students
The woman previously told her friend she was missing some of her credit cards, and when they went into a bank to review her accounts, they discovered a $35,000 withdrawal from her retirement account, followed by a Venmo, MoneyGram and Paypal transactions that the witness did not believe her friend had knowledge of, or the wherewithal to conduct, the affidavit said.
The FBI tracked the woman’s phone to the Dixie Hollywood Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. Gasca was arrested after agents saw him and the woman exiting the hotel.
In an interview, Gasca told agents the woman was his girlfriend and that after they left the VA facility, they stopped at a bank where she made a $15,000 withdrawal, according to the affidavit.MORE NEWS: Gunman Barricaded In RV In South LA Escapes Police
If convicted as charged, Gasca faces a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison. He is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 9.