In January 2002, Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson investigated the shocking murder of Ted Ammon, one of East Hampton’s wealthiest residents, who had been brutally killed months before (“Murder in East Hampton”). As Shnayerson reported, the aftermath of the 52-year-old’s death was like a game of Clue: if detectives had tips, they weren’t acknowledging them; if they had a suspect, they weren’t saying who.
Ted had built much of his $80 million fortune at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts during the 1980s and led a seemingly enviable life (five homes, luxury cars), but it came crashing down in 2000 when his second wife, Generosa, whom he had married in 1986, filed for divorce.
Embarking on a campaign of domestic revenge, Generosa, with the couple’s adopted twins in tow, moved into Manhattan’s Stanhope Hotel while her $9 million Upper East Side town house underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation. Soon she started having an affair with one of the town house’s construction workers, Daniel Pelosi, an electrician.
The Ammons’ divorce papers were drawn up, but Ted never got a chance to execute them. In October 2001, days before the signing was to take place, his naked and bludgeoned body was found in the master bedroom of his Long Island mansion. In his will, he had bequeathed nearly his entire estate to Generosa.
As Shnayerson wrapped up his article, he noted that many believed the police were close to cracking the crime. But no one could have predicted that it would actually take three years to convict the killer.
In early 2002, three months after Ted’s death, Generosa married Pelosi (the day after Pelosi’s own divorce had been finalized). That spring, Generosa was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In July 2003, Generosa, enraged by her new husband’s freewheeling spending, split with Pelosi. In exchange for $2 million, Pelosi signed a post-nuptial agreement reportedly stating that he wouldn’t contest Generosa’s will.
Generosa died of cancer that August, at age 47. She had cut Pelosi out of her will. Pelosi later challenged the post-nuptial agreement, but the court dismissed his objections. (Pelosi also famously took Generosa’s ashes to the bar at the Stanhope soon after her death and called theNew York Post to let the newspaper know that he was toasting her memory.)
The Ammons’ 13-year-old children, on the other hand, were left the bulk of the estate, about $35 million. Their English nanny, Kathryn Mayne, was appointed their standby guardian, though they soon went to live with Ted’s sister, Sandi Williams, and her husband in Alabama. (The Williamses eventually gained legal custody of the twins.)
Meanwhile, Pelosi became the prime suspect. The motive? Greed. He wanted to maintain his high-flying lifestyle but was fearful that Ted’s cash flow would be cut off once Ted and Generosa’s divorce papers were finalized. In March 2004, Pelosi was indicted. Among the evidence: he had installed the elaborate security system that was mysteriously turned off the night of Ted’s death. That December, after taking the stand in his defense, Pelosi failed to persuade jurors of his innocence. He was convicted of second-degree murder and given the maximum sentence: 25 years to life.