Probably the most sensational murder ever to take place in the Hamptons was the bludgeoning death of wealthy Wall Street investment banker Ted Ammon in East Hampton on Saturday night, October 20, 2001. He was 52. He was the Chairman of Jazz at Lincoln Center, was on the board of the Municipal Art Society, had an apartment on the Upper East Side and a big mansion on four acres on Middle Lane in East Hampton. That night, he came home to his house alone—he was going through a terrible divorce—and he locked the door, turned on the surveillance system and went to bed.
Around 2 a.m., as it was pieced together in a trial three years later, a man named Daniel Pelosi came into the house, went up to the bedroom and beat Mr. Ammon to death. His body was not found until Monday afternoon when a business associate of Mr. Ammon, Mark Angelson, became alarmed that Ammon had not come to work at their private equity firm, Moore Corp., called the East Hampton house and got no answer, then flew out in a private helicopter and found Ammon’s battered dead body on the floor of the bedroom with blood all over the place.
It took three years, but in the end, this blue collar construction worker from Center Moriches, who had become intimately involved with Ammon’s wife, Generosa Ammon, while the divorce was going on, and who later married and then separated from her, was convicted of doing the deed. There was, as it turned out, potentially a lot of money in it for him.
Daniel Pelosi, today, is 9 years into a 25-years-to-life sentence at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Washington County, way upstate, and he remains very angry about his conviction. In an ABC News interview conducted in the jailhouse three years ago, he said that his estranged wife (Ammon’s former wife) had ordered it done, and it was done by accident by three workmen from a construction company headed up by his pal Chris Parrino. He, Pelosi, was against it at the time. Although once it was done—they were only supposed to beat Ammon up—he saw to it they got paid $50,000.
Anyway, Pelosi will be eligible for parole in 2031. Or maybe he will be out in a couple of weeks. It depends upon what a four-judge panel in a Brooklyn courthouse decides.
This panel last week heard an appeal made before it by Pelosi’s new attorney Richard Mischel, who has an office in Manhattan. Mischel alleges that Janet Albertson, who was the Assistant District Attorney handling the Pelosi case back then, made irrelevant criticisms and personal reflections on Pelosi’s character that biased the jury’s decision in this matter.
It must be hard being a prosecutor in a murder trial. But somebody has to do it. In an earlier murder trial at which Eric Williams of Deer Park was the accused, Ms. Albertson’s cross-examination of the defendant was so tough that in 2013 a judge ordered the murder conviction thrown out and the defendant retried. Ms. Albertson, in that case, suggested that Mr. Williams had murdered before. Soon after the Williams case was thrown out, lawyer Mischel filed a complaint on the same grounds in the Pelosi murder case.
Mischel argued before the judges that Albertson painted Pelosi as a demonic sadist willing to do anything to get Ammon’s fortune.
“This was nothing short of a courtroom mugging of the defendant,” Mischel told the panel. “She never should have prosecuted the case.”
But Albertson had reasons for this personal attack. Before the trial opened, Pelosi had threatened to harm Albertson and her children.
One of the panel judges, Justice William Mastro, seemed skeptical. “You think that’s what turned the tide?” he asked. Nobody had made any objection of her prosecution at the time. “You’re arguing a prosecutor was running amok, with a defense attorney standing mute.”
It’s a fact that Daniel Pelosi’s defense attorney was Gerald Shargel, one of the most prominent defense attorneys in the country. Money from the estate of the deceased was paying the bills.
Earlier in the case, it was determined that while Pelosi and Mrs. Ammon were living openly together, there was agreement on the divorce settlement. But before it could be signed—Mrs. Ammon would have gotten approximately $25 million—Mr. Ammon was dead and Mrs. Ammon, as his widow, would now be getting it all. And she was also free to re-marry. And so she did. She married Daniel Pelosi. But now there was a new problem. Mrs. Ammon was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She died in 2003.
Apparently some thought Daniel Pelosi was not terribly good at nursing his terminally ill wife during this time.
“It must have been his lucky day,” Albertson told the court, referring to Mrs. Ammon’s sickness. She is terminally ill and dying, he is “gambling away her fortune.”
Indeed, Mrs. Ammon tried to get Daniel Pelosi out of her life during her sickness. She gave him $2 million dollars to go away. And she ordered that her twins’ nanny, Kathryn Mayne, take over the care of the children.
But those are peripheral matters, not relevant to whether Daniel Pelosi committed a murder, Mischel said.
Relevant to the murder charge was the testimony of Chris Parrino, Pelosi’s co-worker and friend who drove Pelosi to the Middle Lane house in the middle of that night of October 20. Parrino testified that he remained outside when Pelosi went in. And then Pelosi returned all bloody, Parrino said, saying he had really beaten up Ammon good and thought he was dead.
There was the matter of the surveillance system. It was Pelosi, at Mrs. Ammon’s request, who had installed it. You could see what was going on in every room. And the system’s hard drive had been removed. This hard drive had been in a unit in a remote corner of the attic. And surely, only the Ammons, and the man who had installed it, could have known where to find it.
Pelosi’s sister said that Pelosi could watch the surveillance tapes right from her house. And there was another television setup in the New York apartment.
And Pelosi’s father testified that the day after the murder, his son had called to ask him how you could get rid of something you didn’t want anybody to ever find. He said he told his son that would be hard to do in this day and age, and he didn’t know.
Several other people directly testified that Pelosi had bragged to them he had killed Ammon. And in that ABC video interview in the jailhouse, you can hear Pelosi say yes, he took out the hard drive, but you could find it in the muddy bottom of a canal in Lindenhurst and, “I think these hard drives are sealed,” he said, “so you could watch it and see that I’m not on it.” All they’d have to do is dig it up.
After that ABC interview, divers went down and combed the bay bottom, but they found nothing.
The panel of judges could throw out the appeal and let the conviction stand. They could say it was out of line and have Pelosi re-tried. Or they could say it was so egregious that the Pelosi case should be thrown out and he could go home. We’ll have to see.