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The War for Ted Ammon's Children


As toddlers, Ted and Generosa’s kids led charmed lives: Alexa attended Chapin, and Grego went to St. David’s. They’d bike around Central Park, racing their jogging father. Grego’s first English word was taxi. “Grego was a lot like Ted—very extroverted, very fun,” remembers Ted’s niece Wendy Simmons, a daughter of Sandi’s who lives in Manhattan and often visited Ted and the kids. “He was a ham. Alexa was maybe more serious. But they were so close to each other. Alexa even played on Grego’s hockey team at St. David’s.” Leaving KKR, Ted named his new business Big Flower Press, a company that published ad inserts for newspapers, after one of the kids spotted a field of sunflowers during a car trip and shouted, “Big flower!”

The company eventually grew to include 32 businesses with revenues of $2 billion; Ted sold it and ran a private-equity venture-capital business called Chancery Lane Capital. Behind him was a wife who became increasingly uncomfortable with her role as homemaker and hostess. Bob Williams remembers being on the back patio with Generosa at the beach house on Middle Lane: “ ‘I’m the one that really made Ted,’ she’d say. ‘I need some credit. He could never have done this without me.’ I thought she was joking, to tell you the truth.”

In fact, Generosa wanted it in writing: She and Ted were drafting their wills in 1995 when, Sandi recalls, “they were arguing. She wanted to be named vice-president of his company, to take over if anything happened to him. He did not want her to be involved in his business at all.”

A pattern emerged: Generosa would explode, Ted would clean up. “He kept losing friends because of Generosa,” one colleague says. “Suddenly they wouldn’t be friends because Generosa would say, ‘Get rid of them.’ ” In 1999, the family moved to the Surrey estate, perhaps to reinvigorate the marriage. Sandi remembers everyone seeming fine during a Memorial Day– weekend visit in 2000. But when the Ammons returned to New York that summer, Generosa was looking for a divorce lawyer.

A source close to Generosa says she discovered Ted had started an affair with his first wife (an accusation that Randee Day denies, although they did have lunch a few times); she also accused Ted of fathering a son with a blonde investment banker he was seeing (though sources close to Ted deny it). Ted’s friends say he couldn’t handle Generosa’s instability. In either case, Generosa clearly felt betrayed. “Part of the electricity there was a woman scorned,” one person who knew her says. “Whether it was in the courtroom or in the Stanhope Hotel or in the street, she would yell at him. She’d claim he didn’t care about the kids and ruined their family life.” When the judge ordered the children to have cell phones so they could reach their father, Generosa convinced them that the phones would cause cancer.

For all his vaunted competitiveness, Ted wouldn’t go toe-to-toe with his wife. Even as the divorce proceeded, Ted continued paying for Generosa’s home-improvement obsession. And when the townhouse renovation blew its completion deadline by a year, he became convinced that she was using the project to drain money from him. Of course, that money was also supporting Dan Pelosi.

With his high-school equivalency diploma and dem-and-dose manner, Pelosi was, if not a rebound guy, something of a fixer-upper. “He looked like a classic low-level mafioso in caricature,” says one observer, “all in black, black silk shirt and jacket, greased-back hair, no socks, and loafers.” The truth about Pelosi is less romantic. Born in 1963 in Flushing (he’s six years younger than Generosa), he started drinking heavily at 13 and perhaps never stopped, according to documents from rehab, often blacking out and hallucinating. He checked himself in to Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in 1984, saying he’d had a case of beer every day for eighteen months. He did coke and heroin, spent some time as a dealer, and, at 20, married his pregnant girlfriend, Tammy; they had three children. He had worked in construction until a 1982 injury; then he’d worked off the books while pursuing a personal-injury suit, depending heavily on Valium and booze and spending more than a decade on and off welfare.

In 1995, during a psychological exam for the lawsuit, Pelosi managed to convince the psychiatrist, according to a detailed eleven-page report, that he was an “immature, paranoid, insecure, and antisocial personality.” Pelosi bragged with “zest and enthusiasm” about his past drug dealing and credit-card fraud. The psychiatrist doubted that the injury could have caused Pelosi’s various psychological problems. He also predicted Pelosi wouldn’t stay on the wagon. As recently as days before he married Generosa, Pelosi got punched out at the Mustang Grill on the Upper East Side after buying hundreds of dollars in rounds of drinks.

He couldn’t have been more different from Ted—and some say that was part of the attraction. “Part of it was romance,” says one friend. “Part of it was alcohol. Part of it was rebellion! She was gonna throw him into her society, and Danny and her society were not an easy mix.”

As the divorce started getting nasty, the judge in the case, Marilyn Diamond (who is now making her own headlines in a conflict-of-interest case), ordered a full psychological evaluation of the children as well as the parents. Psychologist April Kuchuk spent fifteen hours over a two-year period interviewing Generosa. In her report, excerpts of which were obtained by New York, she wrote that “the pattern and magnitude of her symptom profile is considered in the clinical range of psychopathology.” Generosa displayed signs of borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder—and her behavior, Kuchuk found, affected her children as well as Ted. “She would not permit her children to express any positive feelings toward their father,” she wrote, and even “rejected them for going on court-ordered vacations with their father. Upon their return from one trip, she refused to talk with them for several days.”

Generosa’s arm’s-length parenting style clearly alarmed the psychologist: “She kept her 11-year-old son in Pullups rather than address his nighttime bed-wetting.” Kuchuk thought the children were in desperate need of psychotherapy, but “Ms. Ammon stated that she was too busy to interview therapists.”

But it’s how Generosa handled Ted’s death that most damned her in Kuchuk’s eyes. “Ms. Ammon told Alexa and Gregory that their father had committed suicide by taking alcohol and pills instead of the truth that he was murdered.” While Dowd denies it, another source confirms that Generosa told her children this, even though, at the same time, she released a press statement saying, “I believe the most important consideration now is that our children be protected from things said about their parents that can only bring them further pain.”

Kuchuk’s report is a key weapon in Sandi’s custody battle—so it’s no surprise that Dowd is arguing that it shouldn’t be admitted as evidence. He claims the confidential report was leaked to Sandi, which Sandi denies. The report itself is actually dated November 9, 2001—two weeks after Ted’s death had effectively ended the divorce proceedings—suggesting, at least to Dowd, that it was completed only to build a case against his client. “You’ve just got to ask yourself, is this a way of showing concern for the children?” he says. “It seemed to me the last thing I would do is expose this to a child.” (Kuchuk declined to comment.)

Ted’s body was discovered by his business partner, Mark Angelson, after Ted not only missed a meeting but failed to pick up his kids. Angelson was sufficiently alarmed to take a helicopter to the Hamptons; when he got to the house on Middle Lane, a trail of blood led up the stairs to Ted’s bedroom, where he was lying naked.

No sooner did news break about the murder than several rumors percolated: Ted had shady business dealings. Ted had enemies and was being sued left and right. Ted was gay and had been killed by a piece of rough trade. Ted’s penis had been severed by the killer. Most of these rumors were encouraged by people close to Generosa. The gay slaying, for instance: “Our investigators developed this,” admits a source close to Generosa’s legal team, who adds that he was responsible for planting the rumor in Cindy Adams’s column. A source with knowledge of the crime scene says the penis rumor is false. Despite thousands of pages of accounting records from the divorce, no reports of improprieties have surfaced.

As for enemies: The lawsuits against Ted included one for back pay by Generosa’s assistants, Steven Guderian and Bruce Riedner (neither of whom could be reached for comment), settled by Ted’s estate last year, and a tussle with his Fifth Avenue building over the sale of his co-op, which ended amicably.

Generosa provoked curiosity by hiring Dowd, a trial attorney who has made his name in accused-husband-killer cases (and who was also the whistle-blower in New York City’s parking-violations scandal that brought down Queens borough president Donald Manes in the eighties). In his 1989 defense of socialite LouAnn Fratt, Dowd had argued that she stabbed her husband of 30 years in self-defense. Fratt was acquitted. Dowd’s associate Mike Shaw has also defended his share of accused husband killers; now he is representing Pelosi’s friends in a related case against the Suffolk County police. Dowd, Shaw, and at least two other lawyers have been subpoenaed by the Ammon-murder grand jury.

Pelosi’s lawyers told detectives that he was at a wedding and birthday party that weekend; police haven’t released the presumed time of death, so it’s unclear if his alibi holds water. Attorneys for Pelosi also revealed that Generosa and Dan had installed a nine-camera surveillance system at the house (supposedly to catch Ted with girlfriends); police haven’t said what, if anything, it recorded, or even whether it was working that night. Pelosi and Generosa both supplied cotton-swab DNA samples from inside their cheeks, but they were never interrogated. Dowd says he offered to speak to police on Generosa’s behalf, but was rebuffed. “We’re suspicious about the quality of the investigation,” he says, “and the lack of openness with us about it.”

Instead, police steadily went after Pelosi for other offenses—parole violations (he’s skipped meetings with parole officers more than a dozen times) and a DWI stemming from a month before the murder, when he failed several roadside sobriety tests and even admitted he’d “had a few beers.” A friend of Pelosi’s named Chris Parrino told police that he was driving the car—and that Pelosi had drunk nothing but ginger ale that night. Police later arrested Parrino for making a false statement.

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