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"He's a do-gooder who wants to run his father's life," says HPD spokesman Cato, adding that the police did not take Jay's kidnapping claim seriously. "He's a lot like Moie in some ways, but he doesn't have the pizzazz that Moie had."
Within HPD, there are well-defined boundaries between the responsibilities and -- most important -- the authority of officers, civilian employees and civilian volunteers. No one hesitates to point out when those lines have been crossed or violated, especially to volunteers.
It may not have been his fault, but each time Hamburger appeared in a news account about Prieto last fall, he was identified as a member of the police department. And even though he technically was acting on behalf of HPD, the department gets touchy when a volunteer isn't clearly labeled as such. And it's pretty much the responsibility of each volunteer to make sure that distinction is duly noted. Hamburger was aware that his public appearances with Prieto were not going over well with the department.
"I was too often linked to HPD," he acknowledges. "I know that some of the HPD senior officers had a problem with the publicity."
In addition to his other duties, Hamburger also coordinated a couple of fundraisers for Ana. One was a barbecue at an ice house on Washington Avenue, where Jeff Bagwell signed autographs and members of the Houston Police Officers Association donated their time and equipment preparing the food. Another benefit at DiverseWorks featured an appearance by actor Edward James Olmos.
Combined with the money that had been mailed to the account the Women's Center had set up, along with money generated by a fundraiser held by a local Honduran association, the money donated for Ana swelled to $37,000. (That figure does not include the approximately $5,000 in cash that Hamburger says was given directly to Prieto.)
No secret was made of the funds. So in December, after officials with the Harris County Hospital District began wondering about the $52,000 bill Prieto had accumulated at taxpayer expense during her stay at Ben Taub, they approached Hamburger to see if some sort of payment could be arranged. Hamburger went ballistic and called reporters to criticize the district. District administrators were not pleased.
"For about four days we took a real black eye," says one. "Then I called the County Attorney's office and told them, 'I don't give a fuck; you get all the money that's owed to us.' Jay handled it real inappropriately, for his own self-aggrandizement."
Although Hamburger would later announce a plan to pay off Ana's bill, the public dispute between him and the district proved more than HPD was willing to tolerate from one of its volunteers. Hamburger was told to turn in his credentials.
"He went out there and took over," says HPD's Cato. "He's goodhearted, but he overstepped his bounds."
Within a few weeks of Hamburger's dismissal from HPD's volunteer ranks, Ana Prieto Canela would come to agree with Cato's assessment.
She is a striking woman with jet black hair and dark, sad eyes. Her pleasant, round face and the straight purple scars at the end of her thighs make for a cruel juxtaposition.
Ana Prieto Canela may not be her real name. According to lawyer Isaias Torres, who is representing her before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, it is a name the woman assumed when she entered the United States. (He will not reveal her real name; INS contends that Ana Prieto Canela is indeed her name.) Although the necklace she wears and the key chain she carries both say "Christie," Ana unconvincingly explains that "Christie" is her middle name.
She claims to have been born and raised in Choluteca, a city of 54,000 located near Honduras' southern border with Nicaragua. It was there, at the age of 17, that she says she met Julio Bustillo, a bill collector four years her senior.
When asked if she found Bustillo handsome, Prieto and a friend from Honduras both put their hands over their faces and laugh hysterically. Instead of his looks, Prieto says, it was the fact that Bustillo had a job that attracted her to him. After moving in together, things were good.
"At first, I didn't see that he was so evil," says Prieto. "He treated me well."
A year later, Ana became pregnant. It was after their son was born that Bustillo began beating Ana and running around with other women. Once, she says, he shoved a loaded pistol inside her mouth. He also threatened to disfigure her, as he claimed to have done to another woman by throwing battery acid in her face.
"He said he wanted her to always remember him," says Prieto, no longer laughing.
Despite her husband's philandering and violent outbursts, Prieto left her child with her mother and father to accompany Bustillo when he left Honduras to seek a better life in the United States. With $1,000 between them, it took the couple the better part of a week to reach the United States, walking part of the way, traveling by bus the rest. Last July, they entered this country by wading across the Rio Grande near Matamoros. Their original destination was Chicago, but weary from the road, they settled for Houston.
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