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Soon after, the money began pouring in. It became obvious that because of the language and physical barriers facing her, Ana would need help in coordinating her affairs. The search for someone to fill that role ended at an October meeting at the headquarters of HPD's family violence unit. In attendance were Hamburger and three counselors from the police department, as well as representatives from the Women's Center, Justice for All and the office of state Senator Mario Gallegos. As they looked around the room for a volunteer, all eyes fell on Hamburger.
"Everybody else had full-time jobs," says Linda Morales, who represented Gallegos. "So, Jay just sort of volunteered."
Hamburger concurs with Morales' recollection.
"As I sat there at the conference table, everybody was kind of looking at me," he says. "My instinct told me to just take charge."
One of the first things Hamburger did was arrange for Prieto to be in the United States legally. He says he got extraordinary cooperation from the office of U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Her staff helped put him in contact with the right people at the U.S. Department of State, through whom he obtained a visa for Prieto that permits her to remain in this country until May 9.
When Ana was ready to check out of the hospital, Hamburger arranged for her to move into the Brompton Court Apartments near the Texas Medical Center. Part of the complex is leased by the Associated Catholic Charities and is maintained for outpatients at the medical center. The units are completely furnished and have telephones and utilities already connected. Residents pay only the monthly phone charges and a nominal rent of $140 a week. (Until this month, Ana's rent was completely underwritten by Shaune Bagwell, the estranged wife of Astro Jeff Bagwell.)
Hamburger took his new responsibilities seriously, donating his time and devoting himself to getting Ana back on her feet, prosthetically and financially. It was a task no one else was willing to take on.
"I invested in helping her spirit," says Hamburger, "and in helping her heal emotionally, as well as physically."
When Ana needed to go back to see the doctors, Hamburger went with her. When reporters wanted to do a story on Ana, they went through Hamburger. He also persuaded a prosthesis manufacturer, the J.E. Hanger Company, to provide $30,000 worth of artificial legs for Ana.
"Some people get fixations and obsessions with doing things," says HPD spokesman Jack Cato. "That's what's happened with Jay."
Tending to Ana's needs was, no doubt, an exhausting, thankless job. Yet Hamburger's obsessiveness when it came to the Honduran woman struck some people as odd.
In December, when Bustillo went on trial for aggravated assault, Hamburger could be seen on the television news every night, dressed in a white suit and bow tie, wheeling Prieto into Judge Michael McSpadden's courtroom. Often, Hamburger would serve as her spokesman, answering reporters' questions in the courthouse hallways. He seemed to relish the attention.
"He was almost always standing in front of her," recalls one of Hamburger's fellow police volunteers, who, like most people contacted for this story, did not want to be identified.
"It was like it was his limelight. He wants some big name for himself out of this."
If Hamburger is indeed drawn to the spotlight, he comes by the desire naturally.
Through the seventies and into the early eighties, Moie Hamburger was one of the more flamboyant characters on the Montrose social scene, an iron-clad eccentric. By day, as the area's Roto-Rooter franchise holder, Moie made a tidy sum for himself unclogging the drains and toilets of Houstonians. Sometimes, he would even hold himself out as the inventor of the patented device. By night, he was often at the coolest parties and hippest bars, usually in some sort of costume. Other times, he could be seen dressed as a priest, skating at the Galleria ice rink. He was also an avid tap-dancer.
Only recently did Moie slow down. At 85, he now resides at a local retirement home. But while Moie was noted for his conspicuous consumption, his 48-year-old son Jay has come to be known for his conspicuous generosity.
Every Sunday for the past several years, Jay Hamburger has prepared food at his restored Victorian home in the Sixth Ward, where he lives alone and works as a photographer. (Earlier this year, Hamburger became a father. Although he is sharing parental duties, neither the mother nor the child live with him.) When the food is ready, he distributes it to the homeless in downtown Houston. In addition to HPD's 802 Westheimer storefront crisis team, Hamburger has also done volunteer work for the Women's Center's rape crisis program and other politically correct causes. Despite his father's wealth, Hamburger insists Moie is not the multimillionaire he often claimed to be and denies that he relies on any trust fund or allowance to finance his benevolence.
"I live right on the edge financially," insists Hamburger, "especially since I've been sort of changing my life into community service."
Even some of his good friends -- who have no doubt that his heart is in the right place -- find it hard to believe Hamburger's claims that he's in bad financial straits and is fiscally independent from his father. In the first place, they say, there is little to suggest that he has made much of a living off of his photography. Although he does have a limited professional track record -- including some work for the Press -- his work is not much in evidence. Secondly, Hamburger readily admits being in charge of his father's affairs. In fact, the retirement home where Moie lives must obtain Jay's permission before his father can leave the grounds, even with other members of his family. Recently, when Moie left the facility with his sister and sister-in-law, his son called the police to report that his father had been kidnapped.
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