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Plot to kidnap sportswear matriarch

The ringleader of a failed kidnap plot against the chairwoman of Columbia Sportswear Company asked for her forgiveness as he was sentenced to 14 and a half years in prison.

Nestor Gabriel Caballero Gutierrez called the plot a bad decision by "three desperate idiots" and said he wanted Gertrude Boyle to know that he and two co-defendants were not a band of criminals.

Ms Boyle, 87, known for her "One Tough Mother" role in Columbia Sportswear commercials and for her book of the same name, was approached at her suburban Portland, Oregon, home in November by a man offering a gift basket who pulled a gun.

She was able to trigger a silent alarm, bringing police. The man escaped, but Cabellero Gutierrez was arrested hours later while carrying some of Ms Boyle's jewellery.

Ms Boyle didn't appear at the sentencing but released a statement through her lawyer, saying the three defendants "caused me to suffer indignity, violence and indescribable fear" and said her life was forever changed by the incident.

Presiding judge Robert Herndon told Caballero Gutierrez that the plot was "a completely lame-brained scheme" and described Ms Boyle as an Oregon and American icon. "It couldn't have been worse if you tried to kidnap Santa Claus," Judge Herndon said.

Ms Boyle burnished her hard-nosed reputation after her husband died of a heart attack and she took over Columbia, based in Oregon, in 1970. In the 1980s, a national ad campaign showed her putting her son and the products through extreme tests and her flexing her biceps tattooed with the words "Born to Nag".

It remains unclear why the three defendants targeted Ms Boyle and what would have happened to her had they succeeded, prosecutor Rusty Amos said. Investigators know that Caballero Gutierrez was going to take her back to his house.

Police said last year that Ms Boyle was roughed up when her hands were tied, but she was not seriously injured.

Caballero Gutierrez, 40, pleaded guilty to burglary, robbery, kidnapping and assault. His co-defendants, Jose Luis Arevalo and Ramon Alberto Midence, admitted similar charges. According to the terms of a plea agreement, 47-year-old Arevalo will serve almost six years in prison, and Midence, 42, will serve nine and a half years.

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