A 68-year-old woman was rescued in Hollywood on Monday afternoon after being kidnapped from West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center, authorities said.
The FBI arrested Johnny Ray Gasca, 51, of the Bronx, New York, at the Dixie Hollywood Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard and released the victim, who had dementia, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice. Gasca faces one count of kidnapping, carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment in a federal prison, the statement added.
The woman was taken from the VA facility, located near Westwood, around 8:30 a.m. Monday, as she attempted to secure an appointment at the facility, according to the DOJ.
Although accompanied by a friend, the victim was abducted by Gasca, who physically forced her into a golden van, authorities added. The victim’s friend was able to identify Gasca, who had a previous relationship with the victim, according to the DOJ.
The victim’s friend told the Los Angeles Times she was “in shock” and wanted to do more to stop the alleged kidnapping.
“I mean, I did my best to try to memorize the license plate and the make of the car. But it all happened so fast,” said the victim’s friend, who asked. not to be identified for security reasons.
The victim’s friend told federal agents that she “suspected that Gasca may have taken some of the [the victim’s] money from his bank and his retirement accounts, ”the statement read.
The victim was missing several credit cards and $ 35,000 had been withdrawn from his retirement account, “followed by a number of Venmo, MoneyGram and PayPal transactions which the friend believed the victim” lacked in capacity. to perform, the statement added.
Gasca told officers the victim was his girlfriend and the victim withdrew $ 15,000 from a bank shortly after leaving the VA facility, according to the DOJ.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the FBI is still looking for another person who allegedly drove the gold-colored truck.
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