Violent crimes are a rarity in the Hamptons, but over the past 50 years three dramatic homicides that have the characteristics of a Hollywood film were committed here. Murder in the Hamptons is a three-part series excerpted from an upcoming book by Dan Rattiner, founder of Dan’s Papers, and Daniel Simone, author of The Lufthansa Heist.
This first segment is about the 2001 murder of East Hampton millionaire Ted Ammon and the implications surrounding his wife and her lover in that sensational homicide.
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The acrimonious divorce negotiations had been contentious and a resolution seemed impossible. In the interim, the presiding judge ordered the husband to pay $85,000 in monthly alimony payments, which the wife had been demanding heatedly. At issue was also the division of valuable assets and the custody of their 11-year-old twins, Greg and Alexa, the subjects of a fiery debate; but the settlement agreement would never be executed.
At a fit 52, Ted Ammon, tall and striking with an endearing smile and a winning personality, declared to be sitting on a fortune tipping at $40,000,000; but she insisted it totaled closer to $300,000,000. In addition to a townhouse on the tony upper eastside, Ammon owned multiple vacation homes, one of which was a splendid 2.2-acre estate on Middle Lane in East Hampton. Adjacent to a pond in a setting of beautifully manicured gardens, a bucolic wonder, the elegant mansion boasted 7,000 square-feet of living space.
Ted, an avid reader, had designed and built an expansive library with floor-to-ceiling book shelves and French doors that splayed bright rays of natural light into this room. Ted had amassed his wealth, whatever it was, through leveraged buyouts. He was a supporter of the arts and the chairman of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
After years of an incompatible marriage, he resolved to dissolve his nuptials from his lavishly spending bride, Generosa, a 45-year-old combative woman with a blonde, neck-length bob. She, angry and cantankerous, was somewhat attractive, though often berated Ted in public. One balmy afternoon, the trees had blossomed, the fragrance of spring in the air, Mr. and Mrs. Ammon had been spotted strolling on Main Street in East Hampton. Unexpectedly, Generosa, believing Ted had glanced a bit too long at a scantily clad female, lunged at him, tearing the collar of his green polo shirt. This created a vulgar spectacle in front of a crowd of strolling pedestrians.
Sure Ted was a ladies’ man of sorts, but unlike his flagrant wife, he carried on privately and discreetly. Despite his inconspicuous tiptoeing in an extramarital relationship, Generosa “just knew” he had a girlfriend, igniting a spousal war. Usually, when the arguing begins, feuding couples often use the children as pawns, pitting them against one another.
Generosa did precisely so and did it masterfully. She dispraised Ted to their son and daughter, concocting disparaging lies. “Your father cheats in business,” and “Your father is always spying on us.” Mrs. Ammon even convinced the mortified twins that their dad had installed a surveillance camera on the rooftop of a building nearby the Manhattan townhouse that she insisted was hers. On one occasion, on a rampage and in rare form, she shouted to the twins, “He has a girlfriend and an illegitimate son.”
Ted was appalled but he rebuffed his wife’s inflammatory allegations. As far as the illegitimate son, Ted staunchly rejected that supposition, but never broached the part about the girlfriend. Losing the battle, he couldn’t shake Generosa’s negative influence on Greg and Alexa, poisoning them against him, and the impressionable pair became confused over their parents’ ugly battles.
Indeed, Mrs. Ammon’s matrimony had been a failure, but the greed-driven woman fought with legal weapons and mental warfare to ensure the divorce settlement would be more successful than the marriage. Ironically, her name, Generosa, derives from the Latin word generosus, meaning virtuous, magnanimous, and of noble birth, a glaring contrast to her present volatile behavior and disposition.
As the separation progressed, she dove into a blooming romance with a younger boyfriend of 38, Danny Pelosi, a crude, tough-talking electrician from Manorville, Long Island whom she saw as her tool belt workman hero. Unbeknownst to Mrs. Ammon, he was also a low-level felon with a miscellany of crimes, currently on probation.
She had contracted him to renovate her Fifth Avenue Manhattan town house, another asset inclusive in the divorce resolution. Meanwhile, Pelosi’s volcanic libido was alluring to the older Generosa, but a minor inconvenience cropped up. During the noisy, dusty restoration, it wasn’t practical to stay at the Ammons’ town house, and at Ted’s expense of $1,500 per day, she, the two siblings and Pelosi moved into the Stanhope Hotel.
To Ted’s outrage, while his wife and her fiancé were “shacking up” at that exclusive hotel, Pelosi, a wiseguy-wanna-be, knowing that Generosa’s weakness was the children, began acting as their surrogate father. Ted felt this sordid and debased arrangement was not in the best interest of the twins. He tried reasoning with Generosa to not further inflict emotional harm on the mentally fragile Greg and Alexa.
Mrs. Ammon retorted with accusations of her own. She raged on about Ted having scorned her with his dalliances; and, according to a psychiatrist who had been following the saga, her immorally reckless conduct was a psychological retaliation for his past and present infidelities.
Greg and Alexa, affected by the bitter quarreling began floundering in school. Ted wrenched over this bizarre situation, and on weekends withdrew to his East Hampton mansion, presumably still seeing his mistress. Generosa, on the other hand, seemed unfazed by her troubled youngsters and basked in her defiance. She was preoccupied with the architectural plans and spare-nothing restoration of her town house, and at the same time cherishing the virility of her boyfriend.
As for her husband, Generosa intimated she wished him dead, or so were the whispers and rumors within the couple’s circles. Absorbing those insinuations, and envisioning personal gains, Pelosi could easily have thought that was a great idea and put in motion a plan to murder Ted Ammon. If Ted were out of the way, the killer could marry his widow and share her fortune. Whether she was complicit in her lover’s scheme was not known, and will never be known.
Then the plot thickened. On October 20, 2001, while Ted slept in the master bedroom of his country home at 59 Middle Lane, somebody entered it without forcing his way in and disarmed the mansion’s highly sophisticated alarm system. How could he have done so? The answer wasn’t mysterious or complicated to many.
At Generosa’s will, and unbeknownst to Ted, Pelosi had installed an invisible camera surveillance network throughout the house so she could monitor her husband’s suspected shenanigans. The day after the murderer had stealthily forayed into the Ammon residence, an associate of Ted discovered his bludgeoned body, naked and bloody, on the bedroom floor in a lifeless sprawl of arms and legs. Why would a man sleep naked in late October? Unless someone else shared his bed, some observers speculated.
The surveillance equipment had been removed, and Pelosi later admitted to having dismantled it, though he steadfastly denied any implications in Ted’s murder. Generosa, too, refuted the notion of any involvement in the gruesome homicide. However, several witnesses, friends and domestic employees, attested that they overheard her incriminating rants: “I wanna see him dead,” and, “He got what he deserved.”
More compelling, three months following Ted’s demise, she married her boyfriend. But not long after their honeymoon, Generosa was diagnosed with breast cancer and died shortly thereafter. Before passing, for unspecified reasons, she modified her will and only left her new groom a mere $2,000,000—a pittance in the scope of relativity.
Danny Pelosi’s downward luck didn’t end there. He was ultimately indicted and convicted for Ted Ammon’s murder and imprisoned for 25 years to life. Interestingly, he has maintained his innocence and, as of recently, hired a private investigator, Jay Salpeter, to unearth, he hopes, exculpating evidence to clear him of Ammon’s homicide. This begs a question: if Generosa had nothing to do with Ted’s killing, as she claimed persistently with indignation; and if Pelosi continues to insist argumentatively that he’s innocent, then who committed the murder?
Is a killer still lurking somewhere in the Hamptons?