Surely this isn't what usually happens when you run off with the electrician: You are at a hotel bar with your hunky new husband, a Cosmopolitan on the rocks, a cigarette and a news photographer. And--oh, yes--you're in a cardboard box.
When Long Island contractor Danny Pelosi, 40, brought the ashes of his dead, estranged wife Generosa Ammon with him to the bar at Manhattan's swank Stanhope Hotel last week, it was only the latest bizarre installment in the titillating tale of the fall of the house of Ammon. So far, the story involves the unsolved murder of a dashing multimillionaire at his East Hampton, N.Y., estate, a felonious electrician, a missing laptop, a handsomely compensated British nanny and now a dispute over a dead woman's remains. "If this was on Dallas, nobody would believe it," says Steven Gaines, author of Philistines at the Hedgerow, a social history of the Hamptons. "It's amazing. It's horrible."
The sordid saga began in October 2001, when Ted Ammon, chairman of Jazz at Lincoln Center and a financier with a personal fortune estimated at $100 million, was found naked and bludgeoned to death in a bedroom in his ivy-covered mansion. Ammon, 52, was days away from signing divorce papers with Generosa, his wife of 15 years. The two were separated and battling over custody of their adopted Ukrainian twins, Alexa and Gregory, 11. At the time of the murder, Generosa was dating Pelosi, whom she met when he helped renovate her Manhattan town house. Pelosi had also installed an elaborate alarm system in the Ammons' East Hampton home that failed to go off the night of the murder.
Three months later, the Long Island electrician and the Upper East Side socialite were married in a small ceremony in Queens. Soon after, Pelosi served four months in jail for a felony drunk-driving offense and was arrested for stealing $40,000 worth of electricity. By this summer, a grand jury was finally convened in the Ammon murder, with Pelosi as its focus. But one potentially crucial piece of evidence was missing--a laptop capable of remotely accessing the security system in the Ammon home. After being compelled to testify by a state judge, Generosa Ammon's attorney, Michael Dowd, said he had sent the computer to a security company and never got it back.
As the homicide investigation plodded along, the Ammon-Pelosi marriage seemed to deteriorate. Ammon, gravely ill with breast cancer, moved back into the East Hampton home with her children in June. In July the couple signed a postnuptial agreement that left Pelosi $2 million and their Center Moriches, N.Y., home. At the same time, Ammon apparently had her lawyer draft a will to replace one she had written a year earlier awarding the bulk of her $34 million fortune to Pelosi "absolutely and forever." According to her attorney, the new, 37-page document was in effect when Ammon, 47, died on Aug. 22. It leaves nearly her entire estate to her children, now 13. Their nanny, Kathryn Ann Mayne, is given guardianship, $1 million and free lifetime use of the East Hampton home. Ammon's mother-in-law, Janet Pelosi, gets $250,000. One contractor who worked on her Upper East Side town house gets the same amount, plus a Porsche Carrera. Danny Pelosi is not mentioned.