Man to Plead Guilty in Kidnapping of Elderly Woman at VA Center in West LA

Senior woman walking with walking cane in hospital corridor

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man is expected to plead guilty today to federal charges stemming from the alleged abduction of a 68-year-old woman with dementia at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center.  

David R. Tscherny, whose age and hometown were not immediately available, has agreed to plead guilty to one count each of kidnapping and interference with commerce by extortion, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.  

According to his plea agreement, Tscherny and a co-defendant grabbed the woman -- identified in court papers as E.C. -- from the VA Medical Center last July 19 in order to steal about $17,500 from her checking account.  

The co-defendant, Johnny Ray Gasca, 51, of Bronx, New York, was arrested afterwards outside a Hollywood motel, and the victim was rescued, prosecutors said.  

A friend of the victim told investigators that she recognized Gasca, believed he previously was in some kind of relationship with the kidnapping victim, and suspected Gasca may have previously taken some of (the victim's) money from her bank and retirement accounts, prosecutors allege.  

The witness also reported that the victim had 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, an affidavit filed in the case states.  

Within hours of beginning its investigation, the FBI located the woman's phone at The Dixie Hollywood Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, where agents converged. Soon after, Gasca and the woman exited the hotel, leading to Gasca's arrest.  

During an interview recounted in the affidavit, Gasca allegedly described the woman as his girlfriend and told agents that, after leaving the VA facility, they stopped at a bank where she made a $15,000 withdrawal.  

Gasca is scheduled for trial next month in Los Angeles federal court.

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