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| May, 2002 | Gotham


Marriage, Money and Murder: Death In The Hamptons

by Russ Baker

Ted Ammon was a punctual, even punctilious man. So when the handsome, WASPy investment banker and New York City civic figure failed to return to Manhattan from a weekend at his Hamptons country home last October, missing a business meeting and failing to pick up his children from school, that was downright worrisome. Knowing better than to assume a sudden, whimsical tic in Ammon’s personality, his business partner, Mark Angelson, hopped a helicopter from Manhattan and went straight to Ammon’s house in East Hampton.

After touching down in the post-Labor Day Hamptons, long since hushed into a weekday autumnal silence, Angelson grabbed a car at the heliport, and within minutes pulled up over the crunching stones of Ammon’s long driveway behind his friend’s silver Porsche. He let himself in through the always-unlocked antiqued front door, and called Ted’s name, but got no reply. Nothing odd about that: his ever-athletic friend could be out for a jog, or maybe a walk on the beach with his dogs. But at the foot of the wide stairs leading to the second floor Angelson saw blood. Following a crimson trail upstairs, he approached the master bedroom. There he found Ammon’s battered, lifeless body sprawled across the bed.

When Ted Ammon became the Hamptons’ first homicide victim in twenty years, a shock rippled through the community, known as much for its safety as for its well-heeled inhabitants. But police found no signs of forced entry, and nothing had been taken from the house, casting a blanket of mystery over the 52-year-old’s untimely death. Furthermore, he seemed an unlikely candidate for a fatal beating: standing 6’4”, he was extremely athletic and fit.

Ted Ammon had stood out, even in frantically upscale East Hampton, as an exemplar of novelist Tom Wolfe’s steely-nerved “Masters of the Universe,” riding the market boom of the 1980s and 90s to a fabulous fortune. Yet he was also a man of complex emotions. In the months before his death, approaching what he hoped was the end of a protracted divorce and sticky child custody battle with his wife Generosa, he had been quietly reassessing the life-choices that had brought him both great wealth and great unhappiness. Had this attempt to rethink and remake his life triggered a sequence of events that ended it?

In telling the story of what brought them together, both Ammon and Generosa agreed that it all began when she chewed him out.

The year was 1983. He was 34, an attorney, and recently divorced from his first wife. She was a 27-year-old, tailored-suit-and-ruffled-blouse-clad real estate agent on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He’d been scheduled to view a potential new apartment, but failed to show up for his appointment. She called the next day and demanded to know just who did he think he was. Charmed by her feistiness, and sight unseen, he invited her out. Before long, they were living together.

Ted’s family took to Generosa immediately. She was sophisticated, yet spunky and fun. But Ammon was not ready for a second marriage, and after 18 months, he broke things off. Generosa was devastated.

As fate would have it, seven months later, the estranged pair ran into each other again in an art museum, and he asked her out for coffee. But his efforts to rekindle the romance came up against Generosa’s resolute will. “She didn’t ever want to hear from him again without a ring,” recalls one of Ammon’s confidantes. She got the engagement ring, and four months later, a big wedding. It was a pattern that would emerge in their relationship as the years progressed: Generosa wanted something badly, Ammon gave in.

Their upbringings provided a study in contrasts: his was a sunny story; hers a sad tale of abandonment and disappointment. He grew up in Pittsburgh and upstate New York in a picture-perfect, middle-class clan. Dad ran a steel company office and coached Little League baseball; Mom, a dietician by training, stayed home to raise the children. After graduating from Bucknell, a small Pennsylvania college where he majored in economics, played lacrosse and joined a fraternity, Ammon married Randee Day, a vivacious woman whom he had met in a training program for international bankers. Following her to London, he became a solicitor at Norton, Rose, Botterell & Roche. The transition was easy. Ammon passed the bar exams in both Great Britain and the United States without graduating law school. When his wife was transferred back to New York, Ammon joined a prominent firm there. He loved his first taste of the Big Apple, but the marriage itself did not survive the rigors of city life. He and Randee divorced, and two life-transforming events soon followed: He met Generosa, and he embarked on an ambitious new career.

In 1983, a small investment firm, Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co., recruited Ammon. He was along for the wild ride as KKR grew into one of Wall Street’s most aggressive and storied leveraged buyout outfits. Ammon worked on the then-record $31 billion RJ Reynolds/Nabisco takeover, and made partner. He even merited a mention in Barbarians at the Gate, Bryan Burrough’s account of the pinstriped but bare-knuckled buyout scene and the untempered greed of the 1980s. But Ted Ammon craved variety, and in 1992 he stunned his KKR colleagues by leaving to form his own company, Big Flower Press, which became a major player in the unglamorous but highly profitable (at $1.9 billion in annual revenue) trade of printing newspaper circulars.

If Ammon’s life so far had seemed a relatively easy progression from success to success, Generosa had had to fight for everything she had. She was born in Laguna Beach, California to an unmarried, alcoholic mother whom she despised. Her name, she would later discover from a photo inscription, was a variation on Generoso, a blond, blue-eyed, Neapolitan sailor whom her mother had met on a European tour. She was ten when her mother died of brain cancer. From then on, she and her only sister were separated and shunted off to a succession of relatives’ houses and foster homes. When Generosa was 17, her sister was killed by a drunk driver. She grew increasingly estranged from her remaining family. Loneliness led to bitterness later on, as Generosa concluded that an uncle had cheated her out of her share of an orange grove he had co-owned with her mother. The lesson would apparently resonate throughout her life: People who appeared to be on her side, whether family, friends or business colleagues, could not necessarily be trusted, much less counted on.

Once she and Ammon were married, Generosa left the real estate world for the leisure life. She quickly became restless, though, and needed an outlet for her skills as a manager and planner. She found it in 1990 when the couple bought a weekend house in a discreetly elegant section of East Hampton. Situated on tree-canopied Middle Lane the sprawling, shingle-roofed, green stucco “cottage” had a large front garden and a massive backyard with a small pond, all presided over by a huge, spreading oak tree.

Generosa took to renovating the same way she tackled high-end real estate deals. She made the $2.7-million house her passion, redoing nearly every inch. Generosa was up every morning at 5:30am and on the phone by 7am with her architect. “She would say ’are you awake?’” recalls Jeffrey Gibbons, who redesigned her East Hampton home. “And I would say ‘yeah.’ And she would say, ‘You are not!’” Passion, however, turned to obsession as she would do and re-do details of the expansive home with an almost feverish mania. Once, she installed 600 tulips in the front yard, then tore them out in a frenzy because she felt they weren’t the right shade in the morning light.

Generosa felt primarily responsible for the success of the renovation, and became enraged when she heard that the architect was telling people that he’d worked on the project. “How dare he?” she yelled, it was her ideas, her eye. Soon she launched her own firm, and acquired a property to redo and resell. Not everybody appreciated her efforts. “She calls herself a decorator,” sniffed one local renovator. Easily antagonized, she had many disputes: She accused two longtime local contractors, including Gibbons, of over-billing. She confronted a neighbor who had put a chain-link fence around his property. “Within five minutes there was all this commotion—screaming and yelling and she was back in the house and her face was purple,” recalls Gibbons. But Ammon, says Gibbons, generally kept out it: “He was a I-am-in-the-living-room-reading-a-book kind of guy.”
Generosa could be charming, but, likely a result of her difficult upbringing, she despised weakness. “You didn’t show her any chink in your armor,” recalled Gibbons, “because she would go for it.” Staff came and went. Gibbons says he was nearly fired for attending to his cancer-ridden mother: “When my mother finally died, all [she] cared about was where I was staying and how [she] could contact me.” The landscaper, Sarah Donley, had a similar experience when her mother was ill. Generosa told Donley how she’d been through her own rough times and advised her to toughen up. At the same time, Generosa craved attention and approval, especially from her husband. “Every time he paid attention to her, she just lit up,” recalls a family friend. “She needed to be doted on.”

Family became her next obsession. A handsome couple could be expected to sire handsome children; a handsome couple of means that learned they could not would be expected to find the perfect offspring elsewhere. And so they did: The Ammons acquired blond, blue-eyed twins from the Ukraine. The girl, Alexa, and boy, named Gregory, also became targets of Generosa’s distaste for frailty. To her, they were mini-adults, even as toddlers. “She didn’t want to be around anybody who was a wimp,” says Gibbons. “I mean, who says ‘chop-chop!’ to a two-year-old?” She let the children run around the second floor of the East Hampton construction site, where there were no railings. Once, when the boy began to lose his balance and Donley, the landscaper, reached out to grab him, Generosa snapped at her: “Don’t do that. He has to learn to figure these things out on his own.” On another occasion, while Ammon was away, their daughter took a cookie before dinner, and Generosa, in a rage, began force-feeding the child cookies until a visiting couple got her to stop.

Clearly not content with her role as mother and lady of the manor, Generosa remained unhappy. “She was very insecure in the fact that she was a very rich man’s wife, and she did not want to be looked at like some kind of trophy,” says an associate. “She wanted to be looked at as just as gifted as he was in her own way.”

When she announced a desire to become a modernist sculptor, Ammon responded enthusiastically, buying her a huge, sunny loft in SoHo to be used as her art studio. Generosa began creating large, avant-garde installations; in one, seemingly channeling the pop artist and ’80s icon Christo, she shrink-wrapped a Chrysler K car.. Although her career never took off, Generosa’s craving for recognition of her creative side grew--so much so that, according to an acquaintance, she even fudged her birthday by a few days to claim a more “artsy” astrological sign. Straddling two worlds and trying hard to fit into both, she would dress in jeans and black for an art opening one day, and the next go sofa shopping in a typically WASP-y outfit fitting to a matron of her status.

Ammon, who was as emotionally guarded as Generosa was explosive, rarely lost his temper, even when she took to dressing him down in front of others. Gradually, it began to dawn on him that the fieriness that had initially drawn him to Generosa was indicative of a deeper problem—and that it was taking its toll on everyone. As early as 1996, Ammon was confiding to people like his sister, Sandra, that he was miserable. Generosa, he said, made lists of what he needed to do everyday—at the office as well as at home. She was experiencing mood swings of increasing frequency and intensity. She showed jealousy at the attention Ammon paid his sister and mother, and she was forever trying to persuade Ammon that his childhood had not been as idyllic as he remembered it.

Seeking sympathy wherever she could find it, Generosa began calling Sandra in tears complaining that Ammon did not love her enough. She would say, over and over, that she had built a perfect life for them and that he should love her for it. In fact, he did really love her—that’s what everyone agrees—even if he was not always demonstrative. “The marriage fell apart for a lot of different reasons,” says Sandra. “When I was talking to both of them, I could definitely see both sides.” As Ammon grew ever more distant, Generosa tried harder and harder to win him back. At the same time, she required more and more demonstrations of love from him. As one intimate recalls, “I don’t think any man could have loved her enough.”

Ammon, who was beginning to suspect that whatever ailed her might have a chemical basis, encouraged Generosa to go for a psychological evaluation. She refused. Her mood swings were so violent, he told intimates, that he didn’t know if he was going down to breakfast to meet Jekyll or Hyde. But he would not leave because, as one friend put it, “he was loyal to a fault.”

By 1998, both were ready for marriage counseling, which helped for a time. So, too, they hoped, might a dramatic change of environment. The answer, they thought, might be to leave the demanding New York scene behind. On a joint trip to London, where Ammon interviewed for an international banking job, they found a new diversion: Coverwood, an 11,000-square-foot, stone, turn-of-the-century manor house in Surrey that Generosa could tackle; ten bedrooms, a billiard room, parlor, library, office, art studio and, on the surrounding seventeen acres, tennis courts, stables, a greenhouse, pond, and lush gardens were plenty to keep her occupied. Ammon made a down payment on the property, but then decided not to accept the UK position. Back in New York, the couple fought over the move for six explosive months, with Generosa arguing that in New York lay their problem, in England their salvation.

In the end, Ammon consented. A welcome calm overtook their lives. With horses that they transported from the States, Generosa took to fox hunting -- and she rediscovered photography, a longtime interest, while Ammon amused himself on hunting trips at an estate in Scotland. The children, now nine, were content, too. Both were avid tennis players; the boy enjoyed cricket, and the girl rode. They loved their schools.

The idyll had only lasted about three months, though, when Generosa began insisting that Ammon retire and spend all of his time in England. But while she had evidently found her heaven in Surrey, Ammon began to find his in Manhattan. He was still working with his partner Angelson, and the London end of the business was certainly going well, including a ₤8 billion offer he’d engineered to take over British Telecom’s local loop exchange network. But the bulk of his deal making was in New York, a city he had come to love. A one-time high school trumpet player, he joined the board of Jazz at Lincoln Center (he was later named chairman), and became a close friend of its artistic director, Wynton Marsalis. It was then that he realized that he would not be happy giving this up for the life of an English country gentleman. In addition, the transatlantic commute was wearing him out. He was taking sleeping pills to deal with the constant jet lag.

Perhaps Generosa sensed Ammon’s teetering: One day in Surrey, she rifled through her husband’s desk and from his papers, learned that he had bought an apartment on Fifth Avenue and had been to see a London divorce lawyer. She was stunned. When she confronted him, Ammon admitted that he had seen a divorce lawyer, but assured her that he had decided against any action now. Generosa wasn’t buying it. At age 43, Generosa suddenly envisioned everything she had built crumbling around her. After years of trying to hold and control Ammon, Generosa did a psychological 180. If he wanted to leave her, it would be on her terms. Consulting an attorney herself, she learned that the terms of a divorce and custody battle would be far more favorable for her in New York. So she flew back and preemptively filed for divorce.

Ammon was reluctant to agree. He worried, in particular, about the consequences for the children. Nevertheless, he bought Generosa an Upper East Side townhouse, and she embarked on yet another elaborate renovation. In the interim, she and the children moved into the Stanhope hotel across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

At first, the estranged couple was civil. Ammon, for his part, seemed resigned to a generous settlement, in terms of the kids and the money. “He believed that she was owed, that she was due,” says Deborah Srb, a Hamptons real estate agent whom Ammon dated for a period last summer. “He was very happy to be generous. He told me there was plenty of money to go around.”

Meanwhile, Generosa hired a private detective who discovered that Ammon had been having an affair, for some time, with a glamorous blond investment banker. The woman had a small child, and, according to associates, Generosa was convinced that the child was Ammon’s—which Ammon adamantly denied.

Confronting the dissolution of the only real family she had ever had, Generosa began dictating the terms and conditions of Ammon’s time with the kids. She would abruptly change plans, thereby denying Ammon time with them. A showdown in court began to seem inevitable.

The Unraveling
In making a new life for herself in New York, Generosa had also found a new relationship, in the person of a contractor supervising the renovation of her East Side townhouse. His name was Daniel Pelosi, and he had gotten the job on a referral from a man who’d been the lead contractor on the East Hampton house. Pelosi, a tall, gaunt, dark-haired man seven years Generosa’s junior and whose aura was less Gatsby than Goodfella, was himself going through a divorce.

Ammon was at first delighted that Generosa had a boyfriend, in no small part because he felt that it took pressure off him. But after Pelosi moved in with Generosa and the children, she seemed to become more hostile and irrational, as if she were under the influence of something—or someone. Ammon hired a private investigator to look into Pelosi, who found he was hardly prime stepfather material.  A high school dropout with a penchant for fighting, he had multiple arrests for drunk driving and assault, resulting in a revoked driver’s license as well as jail-time served. According to the New York Post, in 1998, during a police vehicle stop, Pelosi claimed to officers he was James Pelosi, thereby pretending to be his brother, a New York City police officer—until his fingerprints proved otherwise.

In 1982 he hurt his back on a construction site he had been working on for just one day, and spent the next fifteen years trying to claim money for the accident, alleging that the injury had turned him into a junkie and chronic alcohol-abuser. In the end, a jury took his word for it but declined to award him any money. Court-ordered psychiatric examinations portrayed him as a deeply troubled man with a lifetime of problems and addictions dating to long before the accident. They characterize him as possessing problems with holding down jobs and telling the truth. Pelosi admitted to stealing drugs and selling them, as well as lying on credit card applications and doing electrical work without a license. One doctor diagnosed Pelosi with passive-aggressive personality disorder and substance and alcohol abuse. The same doctor indicated in a report that Pelosi arrived at a doctor’s appointment drunk. He estimated that Pelosi had borderline to low average intelligence. “His demeanor was that of superiority and bravado and macho image,” wrote a psychiatrist. “[He] produced an impression of an immature, paranoid, insecure, and antisocial personality. He showed no concern for his behavior and illegal and often criminal activities that he described to this examiner with such zest and enthusiasm…When asked what kind of defects he identified in himself, [Pelosi] described…sadistic tendencies of getting enjoyment out of other people’s pain and suffering.”

In addition to being shocked by his wife’s choice of company, Ammon was also taken aback by the bills from the Stanhope, which some months reached $100,000. Generosa had taken a suite for herself and Pelosi, another room for the children, and on occasion rooms for their au pair and for Generosa’s long-time assistants, Steven Guderian, Bruce Riedner. Pelosi began inviting his relatives, and soon, it was like a scene out of the Beverly Hillbillies, with his mother, the children from his previous marriage, even his nieces and nephews, all trooping in from the hinterlands to enjoy the opulence.
Ammon demanded an accounting, and asked to see the plans for the townhouse renovation. When Generosa refused, he cut off her spending, which abruptly terminated her—and Pelosi’s—stay at the Stanhope, as well as funding for her personal staff. “She left in the middle of the night,” says one hotel insider. Ammon also cut off the flow of funds to the special corporation set up specifically for the apartment renovation project. The corporation, run by Pelosi, had made some distinctly non-house-related purchases, including buying him a $30,000 Ford Explorer SUV.

When Generosa, Pelosi, and the children vacated the Stanhope, they moved for the summer to the East Hampton house, which Ammon had agreed she would have sole use of while the attorneys tried to determine the exact size of Ammon’s fortune. Ammon got his own Hamptons summer place. In August, a judge mandated temporary shared custody of the children, with alternating weeks, while a more permanent arrangement was determined.

At the end of August, after months of not speaking, Ammon and Generosa managed a polite phone conversation, during which Generosa told him that she and Pelosi wanted to move to England with the kids. Ammon said he would consider it, but that if he agreed, he wanted the children to live at boarding school—not at home with her and a man he likely considered at the very least a bad influence on Alexa and Gregory.

With Generosa, however, Pelosi had taken a quantum leap from his weather beaten, split-level house in a downscale section of Suffolk County to the posh lifestyle of the Upper East Side, from ex-welfare recipient with an oft-estranged wife (he’d separated from her over twenty times in the years since he had gotten her pregnant as a teenager) and three kids to companion and confidant of a soon-to-be-wealthy divorcee. Generosa likely spent more on their hotel rooms in some months than he earned in a year. Yet what looked like a mismatch actually made sense. Though from different worlds, both Generosa and Pelosi saw themselves as survivors of the school of hard knocks, both felt people were against them, and both lashed out in all directions when they felt cornered.

Everything Has Changed
The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon—and the ensuing weeks--profoundly jarred Ammon. Hoping for a little quiet repose to take in all that had happened, Ammon drove out to the East Hampton house October 19 for his first visit to the place since before the summer. His grueling domestic saga seemed to be drawing to a close: The previous Thursday, the terms of the divorce had been agreed-upon, and all that remained was for the parties to sign the papers in a few days’ time. Generosa would get a handsome settlement: half of Ammon’s $80 million fortune. Still, she was not pleased. “She had a grandiose notion that she’d get to keep the real estate, and she believed that the fortune was much larger,” says a source privy to the settlement, noting that at one point Generosa had insisted that Ammon was worth $300 million. Both Generosa’s beloved houses, in East Hampton and Surrey, would be sold.

For his part, Ammon felt an immense sense of relief. On Saturday afternoon, he called his sister and told her that he was by himself and that he planned to take a long walk on the beach with his three dogs and clear his mind. He was thinking now about how to ameliorate the affects of the divorce and the animosity on his children. Srb, the attractive blond real estate agent who had rented Ammon his interim summer place and had become romantically involved with him, remembers that Ammon was consumed with the issue: “He called it his five to ten year project to make them [emotionally] healthy.”

Srb learned of Ted Ammon’s death when her brother called to say he’d read about it in the New York Times. She and Ammon, she says, had been taking a breather. But she had also been worried about him. “I had had a sense a couple of times that things were getting frightening, that things were just getting out of control. And it sounded scary.”

It was mostly instinctual on Srb’s part, for Ammon never expressed fear for his life. In fact, he was not at all security conscious. He felt safe enough that he rarely bothered locking doors or windows, something Generosa was always after him about. Still, at several times last winter and again in the summer of 2001, Ammon had the feeling that he was being followed, expressing to Srb that his soon-to-be-ex was “crazy and she wants me dead.” But in a move that may have sealed his fate, he laughed off the recommendation that he get a bodyguard.

Crime Scene Mysteries
Police authorities investigating the murder have steadfastly declined to provide details of the crime scene, or to identify any leads in the case. No murder weapon has been found, no suspects named, no witnesses have emerged. But bits and pieces seem clear. Ammon’s three mild-mannered dogs, a chocolate Labrador and two golden retrievers, were with him that weekend, but they apparently did not alert him that someone was in the house that fateful weekend. With his strong, athletic physique, presumably he would have put up considerable resistance to an intruder--unless he were taken by surprise or otherwise incapacitated. Ammon, his sister says, was a heavy sleeper, and he enjoyed drinking wine as a nightcap.

Sources familiar with the investigation say that whoever killed Ted Ammon was not a burglar; there was no sign of forced entry, and nothing was taken. One source was told by investigators that the crime scene indicates the possibility that more than one attacker was involved, and that the force of the trauma was considerable.

Oddest of all is the fact that Ammon’s sophisticated alarm system—reportedly installed by Pelosi—appeared to have been de-activated on the night of his death. Unbeknownst to Ammon, nine surveillance cameras had been connected to the system, and one had captured images on that Saturday morning of Ammon reading financial papers on the couch, and of an unidentified woman emerging from a bathroom, before someone shut down the devices. The rest of the day remains a mystery. The alarm system had been a bone of contention for some time, because Ammon had not wanted one installed in the first place, and because, he told friends, once Generosa and Pelosi were living in the house, she had purposely withheld the code from him.

The Aftermath
Immediately after the murder, rumors began circulating about possible motives and suspects. A gossip columnist floated the notion that Ammon had been secretly gay, that he’d been murdered by a stray pickup. The rumor was quickly dismissed by almost everyone who knew Ammon as utterly without substance.

Since October, Generosa has come under intense scrutiny, and hired two high-profile lawyers, including Mike Shaw, who has defended numerous persons charged with murder, one of whom was convicted in 1996 of shooting her husband as he lay in bed. Meanwhile, Ammon’s bankers at JP Morgan-Chase initially took the unusual step of challenging Generosa’s status as co-executor of her husband’s will before belatedly agreeing to allow her to go ahead. Ammon had never revised the document, and since divorce papers had not yet been signed, the entire fortune goes to Generosa, who has repeatedly declined to talk about the case. “Mrs. Ammon has not been interviewed and would not want to be,” says Shaw. “Her feeling is a lot of awful things have been said in the press about her husband and her, and she doesn’t want to contribute to that. It has also taken a tremendous toll on her kids, who are 11.”

Speculation about the case continues to intensify, due in no small part to the actions of Generosa and Pelosi. On January 10, a day after Pelosi’s divorce became final, the couple married in a small ceremony in Queens. Shortly afterward they left with the twins for England and their Coverwood estate, ostensibly to escape the harmful effect the publicity was having on the grieving children, and to settle them into local schools. But they appear not to have reckoned with the rapacious British press: media attention is still strongly focused on the pair; genteel Surrey has not turned out to be the haven they craved.

Nor has Pelosi’s unsavory past helped to reduce the speculation surrounding him and his wife. He returned to the States in early February to face the September drunk-driving charge. At the Suffolk County Court arraignment, Judge Stephen Braslow ordered Pelosi to surrender his passport after hearing details of his double-decade criminal record. According to Assistant District Attorney Thomas Sullivan, Pelosi has been charged over the years with several felonies and assaults, been arrested 11 times, and served three jail sentences. Details of past psychiatric evaluations were also read out at the arraignment. He left court after posting $25,000 bail, but was back in late March for further proceedings, and this time he made a statement to the press: “I had nothing to do with Ted Ammon’s death,” he insisted, adding that his relationship with Ammon had always been “cordial and friendly.” In addition, his attorneys (one of whom is Generosa’s divorce lawyer) delivered to authorities what Pelosi asserted was a handwritten Ammon financial document missed by police at the murder scene. Pelosi said the document showed that Ammon was hiding an additional $300 million in assets, and that it would clear him of suspicion, although he did not explain how. He also asserted that Ammon’s complex financial dealings held the key to the murder. But the spring of 2002 has found Pelosi facing one difficulty after another. In late March, his cop brother James died of a heart attack at home. He was 36.

In the months before Theodore Ammon died, he was apparently undergoing a metamorphosis. For the past year or so, he had been trying to take the long view: he’d made a bundle, and was now giving some of it—and of his time, away. Back in 1996, he set up the biggest-ever scholarship fund at his alma mater, Bucknell, and he became steadily more involved with civic activities, joining the boards of the YMCA and the Municipal Art Society, dedicated to New York’s historic preservation. While a small group gathered in London to remember Ammon; in December, a thousand people would attend a Manhattan memorial service in Alice Tully Hall, the home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Among the Wall Street dignitaries were Henry Kravis, head of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co, and Apollo Capital chief Leon Black, as well as Roger Altman, deputy Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton. Ammon’s two children sat with the family but without their mother. At the request of Ammon’s sister, Sandra, Generosa did not attend.

At the service, Ammon’s close friend Wynton Marsalis honored him with a quintessential New-Orleans-style jazz send-off. Before playing the funeral march, Marsalis spoke to the congregation. “We want to know the particulars of death—it repulses us, it calls us, it fascinates us…but only the dead know the facts of death, and they never tell.”


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