The fall from grace of an aristocrat's wife
Lady Amanda Bruce had it all. Married into one of
's oldest aristocratic
families, she lived on a Britain 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
more than Texas 4,500 miles
By Robert Mendick and Nigel Rosser 8:00AM GMT 17 Jan 2010 / http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7006496/The-fall-from-grace-of-an-aristocrats-wife.html
Her fall from grace has been spectacular ever since going on the run from the
, 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. UK
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 at the age of just 22. Scotland
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
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
clothes shop and debts totalling £130,000. Edinburgh
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
, and in her wake
leaving a trail of credit card debts, failed businesses, defrauded friends and
angry ex-lovers. United States
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
Hunting, Shooting, and Fishing Scotland isn't blue collar Scotland . She
couldn't cope so she just scrammed and kept on scramming when things got
Along the way, she met suburban property developer David Grimes in
Seattle on the 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. US
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
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. Seattle
Next she popped up 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. Texas
By now Amanda was also setting herself up on the internet as a rental agent for expensive holiday homes in
, 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." Hawaii
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
but was arrested when she tried to leave without paying. After being bailed she
took a bus to Austin Carmel in where again she was arrested,
this time for trying to bill meals to a room that wasn't hers. California
By May, authorities had brought her back to
eight charges, including identify fraud, theft and driving while intoxicated.
She failed to find her $400,000 bail. Texas
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,
a biochemist in
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." Seattle
Her children back in the
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. UK
"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."
The title Earl of Elgin was created on 21 June
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
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 Elgin the
so-called Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon. In Britain there are roads that come from the
Earl's titles. These are Dublin Elgin
Road and Ailesbury
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
(1849). The first two are in the Peerage of Scotland; the third is in the
Peerage of the Scotland . United
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
Flanked by two young pipers, Lord (11th Earl Of
The 11th Earl Of
From Scottish aristocrat to
Amanda Movius was born in
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
Grimes served six months in prison in 2010 for committing theft involving fake vacation home in
The woman was arrested again this year under an alias on charges of credit card fraud and theft
By SNEJANA FARBEROV FOR MAIL ONLINE
PUBLISHED: 02:47 GMT, 17 August 2014 | UPDATED: 13:02 GMT, 17 August 2014
The rags-to-riches story of a poor girl from
But for the attractive, blonde mother of three who for a time was known in
Amanda Bruce Grimes, nee Movius, spent six months in a
Not long after her release, the former wife of Scottish aristocrat Lord Bruce, heir to the earldom of
According to local reports, the former Scottish lady-turned-con artist used a similar setup to defraud a
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
Immediately after bonding out of jail, the woman was arrested again on theft and fraud charges in
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
‘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
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
A whirlwind romance in the
The couple settled in a 19th century, 30,000-square-foot mansion in