Patriot Trials

'Patriot' entrepreneur acquitted of kidnapping

Having survived the Y2K phenomenon he long predicted would engulf America, "Patriot" figure James 'Bo' Gritz has gone on to live through another potential nightmare: trial on conspiracy and attempted kidnapping charges.

The former Green beret and co-defendant Sheldon Robinson were acquitted by a Connecticut jury in March of charges related to an alleged plot to kidnap the elder child of a woman involved in a custody dispute.

Prosecutors said Gritz had planned to abduct the 12-year-old boy and reunite him with his mother, Linda Wiegand, who claimed that her former husband had molested their boys. Although courts have rejected Wiegand's claims, Gritz championed her on his radio show and elsewhere.

Gritz and his son, James Gritz, were arrested in 1996 in the parking lot of the school where Wiegand's older son was a student. The Gritzes had pictures of the two Wiegand boys, two-way radios, a school schedule and a lock-picking set.

For Gritz, the acquittal was a double relief.

Just three months earlier, he — along with the rest of the world — survived the "Y2KHAOS" he had so fervently predicted with nary a scratch.

And so did the crowds of people who have bought a massive array of survivalist goods — from dried food rations to giving-birth-in-the-wilds manuals — from the doomsaying Gritz.