Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Fall from grace of Lady Amanda Bruce ...

The fall from grace of an aristocrat's wife
Lady Amanda Bruce had it all. Married into one of Britain's oldest aristocratic families, she lived on a 15,000 acre estate in a historic country house where she brought up her three doting children. Her latest home is far removed – it is a jail cell in Texas more than 4,500 miles away.

Her fall from grace has been spectacular ever since going on the run from the UK, leaving behind a string of unpaid debts. It is a journey that has taken her first to Europe, then to Hollywood, where she mixed with such A-list film stars as Keanu Reeves, and finally to prison for theft. Her victims – and there appear to be many of them – have described her as an 'evil' fraudster who deserves to rot in jail.
Born in Alaska to impoverished parents and whose mother drank herself to death – she discovered her mother's dead body drowned in the bath – the fortunes of the then Amanda Movius were transformed on a holiday to Scotland at the age of just 22.
Considered to have 'rock star' good looks by her friends back home, the then Ms Movius met Lord Charles Bruce, an Old Etonian and descendant of both Robert the Bruce. He is also heir to the 11th Earl of Elgin. It was the 7th Earl of Elgin who seized the Elgin marbles from the Parthenon in Greece and brought them to Britain.
Theirs was a whirlwind romance – described as a 'Highland fairytale' – that by 1990 had led to marriage and all the trappings that go with a union with aristocracy. Living in Abbey House on the family estate, at Culross, Fife, the couple had three children Antonia, now aged 18, 17-year-old James and George, who is two years younger.
But with three small children to care for, the marriage was doomed to failure amid gossip that the American arriviste had embarked on a series of affairs.
By 1996, the couple had divorced while a custody battle followed. Lady Amanda lost the children. Four years later, she had quit Britain for good, leaving behind her children, a failed Edinburgh clothes shop and debts totalling £130,000.
Her father Jim, 72, a retired electrical engineer, would later tell the LA Times: "Whenever she gets in a tight spot, she bolts."
For years she went largely unnoticed, flitting back and forth from Europe to the United States, and in her wake leaving a trail of credit card debts, failed businesses, defrauded friends and angry ex-lovers.
One detective said: "It is obvious she criss-crossed the world trying to escape a crap childhood. She thought she had found stability and all she needed in life when she married Lord Bruce in Scotland. But Hunting, Shooting, and Fishing Scotland isn't blue collar America. She couldn't cope so she just scrammed and kept on scramming when things got tough."
Along the way, she met suburban property developer David Grimes in Seattle on the US west coast, whom she married. Their relationship also soured after about a year. "Everything about her was a mystery to me," explained Mr Grimes, who complained his wife would disappear for days, sometimes weeks, at a time without explanation or reason.
In 2004 they divorced so that by 2006, the now ex-Mrs Grimes had popped up in Hollywood, claiming to be a screenwriter, even posing for pictures with A-list film stars Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Junior and Woody Harrelson on the set of the movie "A Scanner Darkly". No one had reason to doubt the scriptwriting credentials of the pretty woman with the British accent.
Already wanted for dodging a hotel bill in Seattle and using a stolen credit card, she pleaded guilty to theft in 2007 under the name of Amanda Leigh Grimes. But she didn't appear for sentencing and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Next she popped up in Austin in Texas in the autumn of 2008, using a new alias Amanda J George. She told a writer she met in a coffee shop she too was a screenwriter and showed him the photograph of herself with Keanu Reeves and the other stars. She suggested that they write a film together; she almost certainly would have ripped him off.
By now Amanda was also setting herself up on the internet as a rental agent for expensive holiday homes in Hawaii, in the process defrauding among others the travel editor of the LA Times, Catharine Hamm. Ms Hamm had sent her almost $5,000 for the rent on a house in Hawaii where she planned to spend her honeymoon. Inevitably, the deal was bogus and with the wedding just days away, Ms Hamm was forced to find an alternative. "On our wedding day, the humiliation of having been ripped off hung over Carl [her husband] and me," wrote Ms Hamm, "I wondered how I could have been such a fool."
But by now the net was closing in on the 41-year-old.
In April this year and with nowhere to live, she booked into a hotel room in Austin, but was arrested when she tried to leave without paying. After being bailed she took a bus to Carmel in California where again she was arrested, this time for trying to bill meals to a room that wasn't hers.
Texas authorities issued two more warrants for her arrest, including one for pocketing $5,000 for offering a rental home she didn't own to a Canadian man.
By May, authorities had brought her back to Texas to face eight charges, including identify fraud, theft and driving while intoxicated. She failed to find her $400,000 bail.
Detective Carl Satterlee of Austin Police Department's Financial Crimes Unit said: "She appears to have constantly moved from place to place living off other people's money and stealing from people every day."
Last month she finally pleaded guilty to four charges and was given a 15-month jail term, which she is serving out in the Travis County Correctional Unit's building five.
At least, her family are standing by her. Her brother James Movius, 42, a biochemist in Seattle said: "I know she's hurt a lot of people, including her family. I can understand wanting to seek some sort of measure of revenge. But I know this woman, Amanda Movius. And I know she struggles and I know she suffers, and I want her to find her way to help."
Her children back in the UK have been supportive too. Back in the summer when internet chatrooms were full of anger aimed at the con artist, two lone voices struck a rare note of support, defending Lady Amanda from criticism. One of the boys posted about enjoyable holidays shared with his mother. That in turn inevitably attracted more anger, prompting the other boy to jump to his defence. One of the boys – either James or George – then wrote: "I think my brother is allowed to talk about his mother in this way – he is only trying to cope with this.

"It's a lot to take. And if reaching out to someone who has been hurt by what she has done is what he wants to do, then I support it. I am sorry that you had to be part of one of her scams, but he has every right to talk about happy memories of our mother."

"Lord Bruce, a descendant of the 14th century King Robert the Bruce and one of Scotland’s most eligible bachelors, was smitten by the vivacious blonde American.
Born Charles Bruce, his father is the 11th Earl of Elgin, and Lord Bruce will become the 12th. Their ancestor the Seventh Earl of Elgin took the Elgin Marbles, now found in the British Museum, from the Parthenon in Athens."

The title Earl of Elgin was created on 21 June 1633 in the Peerage of Scotland for Thomas Bruce, 3rd Lord Kinloss. He was later created Baron Bruce of Whorlton in the Peerage of England on 30 July 1641. His son, Robert, succeeded him, and was also created Earl of Ailesbury in the Peerage of England. The two Earldoms continued united until the death of the fourth Earl of Elgin, when the Ailesbury and Bruce titles became extinct, and the Elgin title passed to the Earl of Kincardine; the Lordship of Kinloss became dormant. Thereafter, the Earldoms of Elgin and Kincardine have remained united. The most famous Earl was the 7th Earl, who removed and transported to Britain the so-called Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon. In Dublin there are roads that come from the Earl's titles. These are Elgin Road and Ailesbury Road.

As well as the titles Earl of Elgin and Earl of Kincardine, Lord Elgin also holds the titles Lord Bruce of Kinloss (created 1608), Lord Bruce of Torry (1647) and Baron Elgin, of Elgin in Scotland (1849). The first two are in the Peerage of Scotland; the third is in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

The Lordship of Kinloss held by the first four Earls was inherited on the death of the 4th Earl by the 3rd Duke of Chandos. Through his daughter it passed to the Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos, and is now held by these Dukes' heir of line.
The Earl of Elgin is the hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Bruce.

The family seat is Broomhall House, three miles south-west of Dunfermline, Scotland.

Flanked by two young pipers, Lord (11th Earl Of Elgin) and Lady Elgin are seen at their Broomhall home with top table guests attending the annual Bruce Dinner, organised by Dunfermline Heritage Trust.
The 11th Earl Of Elgin, Andrew Bruce outside his family home , Broomhall House in Fife

From Scottish aristocrat to Texas jailbird: How the daughter of alcoholic housewife from Alaska lived out Cinderella story by marrying a lord before turning to a life of crime in US as Internet con artist
Amanda Movius was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and married Scotland's Lord Bruce in 1990; the couple had three children
After their divorce in 2000 amid claims of infidelity, ex-Lady Bruce moved back to US where she married real estate developer David Grimes
Second divorce a year later was followed by Amanda Grimes' departure for  California where she tried to establish herself as a screenwriter
Grimes served six months in prison in 2010 for committing theft involving fake vacation home in Hawaii that she had tried to rent to people online
The woman was arrested again this year under an alias on charges of credit card fraud and theft 
PUBLISHED: 02:47 GMT, 17 August 2014 | UPDATED: 13:02 GMT, 17 August 2014

The rags-to-riches story of a poor girl from Alaska who became the wife of a Scottish lord has come full circle when Amanda Bruce Grimes landed behind bars in Texas earlier this year.
But for the attractive, blonde mother of three who for a time was known in Scotland as Lady Bruce, the April arrest on credit card theft charges was only the latest in a long series of run-ins with the law.
Amanda Bruce Grimes, nee Movius, spent six months in a Texas prison in 2010 for committing theft involving a bogus Hawaiian rental home, Sunday Telegraph reported.
Not long after her release, the former wife of Scottish aristocrat Lord Bruce, heir to the earldom of Elgin, was back behind bars for stealing credit cards from people who thought they were renting a vacation rental property in Hawaii, which in reality did not exist, and using their information to rent houses for herself in Austin.
According to local reports, the former Scottish lady-turned-con artist used a similar setup to defraud a California journalist and a Canadian businessman - crimes that resulted in her incarceration between December 2009 and June 2010.
But repeated stints in prisons seemingly have not taught  Ms Grimes anything.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that the woman who at one time was a member of Scotland’s high society was busted in Hays County, Texas, four months ago under yet another alias, Amanda Reyna, on charges of credit card fraud and theft.
Immediately after bonding out of jail, the woman was arrested again on theft and fraud charges in Travis County, and thrown into the local jail where she remained until her release in June.
The previous year was also a busy one for Ms Grimes, who added counts of DUI, marijuana possession and blocking traffic to her already lengthy rap sheet.

The middle-aged, disgraced aristocrat is still wanted in Hays Country on a pair of outstanding charges of credit card fraud and identity theft.
Swapping names and identities has become a habit - as well as an illicit source of income - for Grimes over the past two decades.
Born Amanda Movius in the family of an Alaskan engineer and an alcoholic housewife who ended her life by drowning in a bathtub, the future con artist left Fairbanks at age 18 to go to college in Washington state.
In 1989, the then 22-year-old Amanda Movius went on vacation in Scotland where she met her future husband at a party.
‘When I met Charlie, I didn't have a clue who he was,’ she told Austin American Statesman. ‘It was just a typical boy-meets-girl situation.’
Lord Bruce, a descendant of the 14th century King Robert the Bruce and one of Scotland’s most eligible bachelors, was smitten by the vivacious blonde American.
Born Charles Bruce, his father is the 11th Earl of Elgin, and Lord Bruce will become the 12th. Their ancestor the Seventh Earl of Elgin took the Elgin Marbles, now found in the British Museum, from the Parthenon in Athens.
A whirlwind romance in the Highlands concluded with a fairy-tale wedding a year later, the Telegraph reported. 
The couple settled in a 19th century, 30,000-square-foot mansion in Fife staffed with maids and cooks at Lady Amanda’s beck and call..

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