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Video: Pelosi denies killing Ted Ammon

NBC Universal Anchors and Correspondents
By Dennis Murphy Correspondent
NBC News
updated 7/18/2008 8:49:13 PM ET 2008-07-19T00:49:13
TRANSCRIPT

This story originally aired Dateline NBC on July 18, 2008.

Gerald Shargel: A murder in a small town has its own cache. And I didn't know that the small town would be East Hampton.

Say the Hamptons to some people and they think of the magnificent beaches on the far end of Long Island, but for many New Yorkers, the Hamptons aren't just about the surf, it's about the scene: the beach towns where celebrities and hedge fund Gatsbys, collide in a gaudy summer dance of A-list parties, and tablehopping at the "be seen" restaurants. The Hamptons are a place where are mansions hidden behind hedges, not crime scene tape.

Gerald Shargel: You know that's the stuff novels are written about.

It was October 22, 2001 in a house on a street to lust for, just a block from the ocean, and on that day the "Architectural Digest" perfection of the mock English cottage was blemished by something very ugly inside:

The homeowner--a handsome millionaire--had been found beaten to death lying in a pool of blood.

East Hampton hadn't had a murder in nearly 20 years.

Local News Coverage: “The cause of death is blunt force trauma and the manner of death is homicide”.

The murder victim was 52-year-old Ted Ammon, a Wall Street investment banker whiz who'd already scored his first $50 million before he was 40.

He was a benefactor of the arts and there were whispers a-plenty about his marriage among New York City's charity ball crowd.

The chatterers gossiped that Ammon's estranged wife had a taste for the high life and low men. One in particular, they sniffed, about the tool-belt guy from the wrong side of the Hamptons canal.

At the time he was beaten to death, Ted Ammon's multi-millions were the stakes in a rough and tumble ugly divorce.

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It was a delicious story that sold newspapers and the cops fed the beast with cautious updates.

Cops From Local Coverage: “At this point in time everything is a motive, his stature, his financial status is certainly things to be taken into consideration.”

Reporters began digging into the history of Ted Ammon and his wife Generosa and found a lot of juicy stuff there.

Michael Shnayerson: Ted Ammon was sort of a small town kid who made very, very good.

Michael Shnayerson wrote about the Ammon murder for "Vanity Fair" magazine.

Michael Shnayerson: As one colleague put it, you know, he'd have 697 wacky ideas and 3 brilliant ones.

And the brilliant ones bought him exotic cars, a luxury apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the six-bedroom cottage in the Hamptons and a virtual castle in England.

Michael Shnayerson: By one account, it had 50 rooms, but another account it had 65 rooms. Apparently, it took $100,000 just to maintain the thing every year and just to pay the bills.

In 1983 Ted Ammon met Generosa Rand, a California transplant who dabbled in the art world before becoming a real estate agent.

Blond and attractive, Generosa looked to the society pages born but her blood was anything but blue.

Michael Shnayerson: Very modest upbringings. And after her mother died, apparently she was shunted from, you know from foster home to foster home. She did go to college at Irvine, California. But then came to New York pretty much on her own.

One of Generosa's real estate clients was Ted Ammon. Ammon had been recently divorced and the broker-client relationship soon became personal. They married in 1986 and lived in a townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

They eventually bought a weekend house in exclusive East Hampton, two hours east of the city.

With her artist's eye, Generosa, poured all of her energies--and tons of the couple's money--into the renovation.

Michael Shnayerson: And she turned it into this extraordinary kind of English cottage-- cottage meaning really mansion. And it-- it looks like something right on Surrey.

They tried to have children--unsuccessfully. Then in 1992 Ted and Generosa adopted twins--Alexa and Grego--from the Ukraine.

The 90's were very very good to the Ammons and their young children.

Kieran Crowley: They were flying on private jets, they were going to all the resorts…

Kieran Crowley wrote about the Ammons, and the Ammon murder in his book "Almost Paradise".

Kieran Crowley: And these kids were given every advantage. They had a whole staff, nanny, you know, butler, cook, chauffer, and for a while, also security.

But even with money pouring out of Wall Street....

All his Porsches and all her decorating...

Wasn't enough to keep the teetering Ammon marriage off the rocks.

Kieran Crowley: Generosa was capable of great warmth and generosity. But if provoked, and some say she didn't need provocation, she could be vicious.

Ted was growing frustrated with Generosa's erratic behavior.

Kieran Crowley: Ted had become very tired of having Generosa burn their bridges socially and otherwise. A perceived slight very often mistaken and never have anything to do with that person again.

According to writer Michael Shnayerson, Generosa was becoming more and more volatile with her friends and retainers.

Michael Shnayerson: One contactor told me about planting 600 tulips for her in their East Hampton house, in a shade agreed upon by her. And the next weekend she was ripping them all out in a fury, saying that it wasn't quite the right shade. Well it turns out that tulips look slightly different in the start of the day than at the end of the day depending on what the light is.

And even with her showplace, Generosa was doing a slow burn, suspicious that her husband was unfaithful.

Kieran Crowley: Ted was not an angel. But he--Ted liked the ladies. And the ladies liked Ted. I mean, he was tall, dark, rich, handsome.

In an attempt to save their marriage, the Ammons moved to the castle in England in 1999. But Ted was spending much of his time in New York, on business. The ocean of distance between them didn't make Generosa any more trusting. She was certain he was with someone.

Michael Shnayerson: She began to be very suspicious of him living on his own in New York. And she apparently hired a personal or private detective to follow him. And with what she found, blew the whistle and initiated divorce proceedings. Generosa basically came in with both guns blazing.

In August 2000, she filed for divorce. Ted tried to keep it civil by making arrangements for Generosa and the children in Manhattan.

Michael Shnayerson: He had actually bought an apartment at 1125 5th--for Generosa thinking that that would be the one that she and the kids would move into when they got separated. Then she decided that she didn't like that, and that's when she bought the-- decided to buy the townhouse on 87th.

It cost $9 million.

As she'd done with the weekend house in the Hamptons, Generosa ordered the townhouse gutted.

The millions in renovation were part of a divorce strategy, according to Kieran Crowley.

Kieran Crowley: Generosa had been told by some people that the judge will freeze your level of living. So she-- she ratcheted it up till she was living-- like a queen.

And, of course, she was a queen with an opening for a king...an unlikely consort eventually got the position, an electrician on the townhouse job site named Danny Pelosi.

Ted was out and Danny was on his way in.

Danny Pelosi: I'm hooking up with a woman that's gonna be worth at least $20 million. Danny, the electrician, the blue-collar worker from Long Island has hit power ball.

By the fall of 2000, Generosa Ammon was ensconced in the then posh Stanhope Hotel on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. It was just a temporary home while her $9-million Manhattan townhouse -- part of her pending divorce settlement -- was undergoing a gut renovation.

Generosa, 44, had taken a fancy to a thirty-seven year old unlicensed electrician she'd hired for her renovation, a man named Danny Pelosi. He was a high school dropout, married, with three children. She called him "My Tool Belt Guy."

Danny had no problem with that. He'd signed on for the express ride to the uptown life.

Danny Pelosi: I knew the woman liked me and it gave me an edge. And it gave me an edge for the job. Which I took advantage of. I played her off. I played hard to get.

Sam Bruchey: He's a charming guy. He's a friendly guy. He smiles, he's charismatic. But he has eyes that make you think there's something else going on behind the surface.

Sam Bruchey, covered the Ammon murder for the Long Island newspaper "Newsday," and spent hours interviewing Pelosi.

Sam Bruchey: By his own definition, he's something of a hustler. He's always looking to get over on somebody and make a quick buck.

Danny grew up in a middle class town on Long Island, but by his teens was already in trouble with the law.

Kieran Crowley: He had a series of DWI's, and things like that. He'd get off and then he'd get on the wagon for a while, and then he'd screw up. You know, this was a-- a pattern for his whole life.  

By 18, Danny Pelosi was married. By his mid 20's he was supporting a young family. He gave up the booze and threw himself into a series of jobs to pay the bills.

But life had gone into the tank for Pelosi, about the time he came up with the renovation job at Generosa's townhouse.

Kieran Crowley: He had lots of bills. He was in bankruptcy. When he met Generosa his house was about to be foreclosed and sold on the block. He was in a bad way and couldn't make a living

Generosa even found him sleeping in his truck one morning outside her townhouse. He told her the drive back and forth to Long Island was too exhausting. Sleeping rough, it turned out, was the best move he could have made. Generosa took pity and maybe something else and put him up in a room at the Stanhope. It wasn't long before the electrician and the boss lady started flirting on the job. He says she made the first move.

Danny Pelosi: She called me and told me -- that she wanted me to check the telephone to see if it had been bugged by her husband at the hotel.  So, I knew it was an excuse just to get me over there.

Pretty soon the unlicensed electrician was in charge of Generosa's multi-million dollar construction project by day...and sleeping in her bed at the Stanhope by night.

Danny Pelosi: I wasn't just Danny, the electrician, anymore. I became Danny, the project manager, all right? I was in charga everything. I went from wearing my jeans and a T-shirt and a leather jacket to walking into the job with designer slacks, you know, walking into the job and dressed like a clown, you know? 

Kieran Crowley: Generosa fell pretty hard for Danny. She was very happy and went around bragging about her young stud boyfriend.

Michael Shnayerson: It was sort of the perfect revenge mode for Generosa. Because she was spending all of her husband's money. Having the renovation get more and more elaborate. And the money was going to her boyfriend. What could be better, if you wanted to really stick it to your ex-husband?

Generosa began showing up with Danny in court.

Danny Pelosi: This was the knife in Ted's back. She just wanted to rub it in Ted's face that I was her tool belt guy. I was the guy that was pleasuring her, all right? You might have your little 38-year-old girlfriend. But, I got my 37-year-old man. I got my stud, too.  

There were shopping sprees for Armani suits, dinners at 21. She bought him a designer tux and hauled him to the opera.

Kieran Crowley: Bringing Danny Pelosi to the opera is a built in contrast. And he didn't like it.

Danny Pelosi: Now, she has me dressed up like a goon. And she brings me to this opera. And I'm not allowed to speak to nobody. All she wants me to do is says, "Hello, I'm Daniel Pelosi."

Kieran Crowley: She told him not to talk 'cause, you know, I mean, you know how Danny talks. 

Danny Pelosi: So, I screwed up in the first five minutes because she introduces me to this guy. I said, "Hey, how are you? I'm Danny Pelosi.  How are you doing?" That didn't work. That didn't work at all. She took me to the side. And she gritted her teeth and said don't you say a word. And I was like, "Oh man, I'm dead."

But opera was infrequent, most evenings the couple were regulars at the Stanhope bar where they picked up the tab for scores of Danny’s pals from Long Island.

Michael Shnayerson: They would hang out at the bar of the Stanhope, getting pretty soused, him much more than her. He would get very bellicose. He would turn to other patrons and accuse them of being detectives hired by Ted Ammon to spy on them.

Sleeping with Generosa at the Stanhope, became a regular arrangement, though Danny did have to pinch himself at times when he'd wake up to room service breakfast at a five-star hotel.

Danny Pelosi: Here's this multi-bizillionaire woman serving me, Danny Pelosi, Eggs Benedict, coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, 1/12 a grapefruit in bed, silverware and everything, walking into the room. I look down to her dog. And I said, "Wow! What the hell happened here?" 

Scruffy wouldn't do anymore.

Danny Pelosi: she takes my Levis and gets 'em creased. She had set my pant-- my friggin' Levis out. And they came back really seamed. All of a sudden, I had a crease down the center of my Levi's.

Kieran Crowley: He admits that he essentially was acting as a gigolo, and he was in it, as he told me "I was in it for the ride."

By then Pelosi had left his wife and children, but thanks to his mistress's checkbook he was able to ease his guilt with lavish gifts and cash to the family and friends.

Ted Ammon, meanwhile, the source of all that wealth, was painfully aware of the money hemorrhaging from his accounts. He knew all about his wife and tool-belt guy.

He hired detectives to follow Pelosi.

While Generosa had her own private eyes spying on Ted.

It was getting plug ugly and more dangerous than anyone knew.

By 2001, Danny Pelosi, the blue collar guy from Long Island, and his millionaire girlfriend, Generosa Ammon, were burning through tens of thousands of dollars each month while she waited for a divorce settlement from her wealthy husband Ted.

Kieran Crowley: Spend, spend, spend. Casinos-- vacations-- he was giving gifts to friends. Spreading money around. He was spending money like a drunken sailor, because in a sense he was a drunken sailor.

Ted Ammon knew all about the boyfriend and the sprees. He'd offered Generosa a $10 million settlement package but she'd turned it down. The divorce was dragging on.

Sam Bruchay: It became intensely acrimonious. Generosa by everyone's account had become fixed on the notion that Ted Ammon was trying to cheat her. She felt that he had money and accounts across the world that he wouldn't say anything about.

And Generosa suspected, rightly, that Ted was seeing a new woman out at the East Hampton house.

Kieran Crowley: He had an affair with a very attractive banker. And some say looked like Generosa, but younger.

But for Ammon there was a larger issue about the divorce than simply carving up the pie. He didn't like Pelosi and he really didn't like Pelosi being around his children.

Michael Shnayerson: He'd already had a couple of DWI's at that point. I mean he wasn't someone you necessarily wanted shepherding your young children around.

Ammon put a private detective tail on Pelosi, but Generosa did him one better. She bugged the house in the Hamptons. She had Danny find someone to install hidden cameras to spy on Ted Ammon around the clock.  John Kundle, took the job of installing the spy cams he thought the customer wanted them there for potential burglars.

John Kundle: Danny was very big on security. Basically, he wanted to make sure they were protected. 

Kundle placed a total of eight cameras around the house -- devices hidden in movement and smoke detectors like these.

All of those cameras fed into a single DVD recorder concealed on the second floor. Ted had no idea the system existed. That virtually every move in his own house was being taped.

John Kundle: It was hidden in a private room that you have to enter through a closet and inside that little room was another room that was boarded up with roughly about eight three-inch sheet rock screws into the wood, which you couldn't access.

The Summer of 2001 was, by agreement, Generosa's turn to use the house.  When she and Danny were there, he turned the spy cameras off. But Ted, in his own secret reverse gotcha, was spying on them. That's right. He had his own camera set up in the neighbor's yard rolling on Danny and Generosa.

By October, the insanity of the Generosa, Ted and Danny folly was nearing an end. Ammon made his final offer --$25 million, and the Manhattan townhouse.

Kieran Crowley: This was not enough for her. She was grumbling.  

Generosa believed her husband was hiding money from her, but agreed to the deal. For Ammon, things were looking up at last.

That autumn, Ted was spending most weekends in the Hamptons where the hidden cameras were still watching and recording.

Kieran Crowley: He didn't know that Danny and Generosa had hidden cameras in the room watching his every move. And of his guests; including during sex.

Not only did those spy cams send pictures to a recording hard-drive, those same pictures could be retrieved from far away on a computer.

Sam Bruchay: All you have to do is dial into the modem, and call up the cameras inside the house. In real time, to show what they are seeing.  Or going back in time.

And Generosa had actually hired Danny’s sister Barbara to monitor the house from a laptop miles from East Hampton.      

On Saturday, October 20, Ted Ammon drove out to East Hampton to spend a weekend there. He had dinner alone at a local restaurant, took a walk on the beach, and called his girlfriend from his cell phone.

Monday morning back in New York, Ammon's business partner became concerned when he didn't show up for a meeting, then when he learned that Ammon - a doting father hadn't made after school arrangements for the children he became alarmed enough that he chartered a helicopter to fly out to the Hamptons to see what was up. When he got to the house he discovered the front door was unlocked -- the burglar alarm was off. And then he made the ghastly discovery of Ted Ammon, beaten to death.

John Gierasch: At this point in time there are no signs of forced entry.

Almost $2,000 in cash lay untouched on a countertop. Robbery was not a motive.

The police reported Ammon's body was found nude, sprawled on the floor.  Bloodstains had soaked through the carpet into the pad beneath.

Whoever did it was both brutal and thorough. 

Kieran Crowley: A great deal of effort was put into cleaning up and corrupting and in some sense staging the crime scene. 

Investigators eventually determined that Ammon had been immobilized before the murder -- maybe with a stun gun.

Kieran Crowley: And the medical examiner believed that at one point someone probably was doing drop-kicking with a knee to crush his rib cage. And it was just that someone wanted to obliterate Ted Ammon, and they did.

When the police arrived to survey the crime scene they came upon the security cameras, and contacted John Kundle, the technician who'd installed them. He told them about the secret hiding place for the unit that recorded the video.

When the cops went to look, the trap door was open. The hard drive was gone.

John Kundle: All the recording video, from before the-- of course, the murder and to the day the police showed up. And if it's missing, only a few people who knew where it was.

And one of those people who knew there was a hard drive secreted away in the bowels of the house would become a prime suspect in the murder of Ted Ammon. The new widow's boyfriend, Danny Pelosi.

WNBC COVERAGE: “Did you do anything to hurt Ted Ammon?”

“Never. Never. What happened to Mr. Ammon is a sin”

Millionaire Ted Ammon was found bludgeoned to death inside his East Hampton estate.

The murder happened just days before ted and his wife Generosa were to sign their divorce, the final treaty in a vicious, year long war.

Since they'd split, his estranged wife had taken up with a high school drop out, a bankrupt, unlicensed electrician, who would soon become a prime suspect.

Rachelle Pelosi is his daughter.

Rachelle Pelosi: I never actually said, "Dad, did you kill Ted Ammon?" I never, because I never thought -- like you know he's my dad. I would never think that he would do that. He told us, he said, you know I did not. You know whatever you read in the papers, I did not do this.

And there was plenty to read about, starting with motive. Money.

Generosa, remember, had only grudgingly accepted a $25 million divorce settlement, believing Ammon was hiding assets from her.

And now with Ted dead. She did get more. Everything, his entire estate. During their take-no-prisoners divorce battles, it turned out that Ted, surprisingly, had neglected to change his will. Generosa was still the beneficiary.

So instead of $25 million, she and the kids were inheriting an estate worth some $80 million.

As for Pelosi, he said Generosa's big payday was news to him.

Danny Pelosi: When this man died, for sure I thought she got nothing. Nobody knew Ted Ammon never changed his will. Nobody. When we found out that that will wasn't changed, we were floored. Floored.

Three-months after Ammon's murder, in January 2002, Pelosi got a quickie divorce from his wife and married the widow Generosa.

Michael Shnayerson: Staggering. Well, at the least you would have to say that she recovered quickly from her grief for her former husband.

To get out from under the headlines -- and all those fingers of suspicion -- Danny and Generosa moved with the children to England.

But life inside the castle didn't last long. 

Within a month, Danny was forced to return to New York to face an unresolved felony drunk driving charge.

When he got back, authorities revoked his passport lest he think about fleeing the country.

Generosa came back to the states to be with her new husband, and the lady of the castle had turned suburban. The couple bought a modest house in Danny’s old hometown center Moriches, to be near Danny’s children. Soon, reporters were showing up outside their house.

WNBC Reporter: Are you Danny Pelosi?

Danny Pelosi: You know I’m Danny Pelosi. Get outta here.

By early 2003, Danny still hadn't been charged with Ted Ammon's murder, but police were going after him on a string of lesser charges.

First the DWI charge. Pelosi pleaded guilty and served four-months jail time.

And no sooner was he out than the authorities busted him again on new charges -- stealing electricity from the Long Island Power Authority from 1996-2002.

Emrah Artukmac: I can tell you he's being charged with grand larceny in the 3rd degree. I think the timing of the charges speak volumes in terms of what is at hand here.

He pleaded guilty to those charges as well.

At the same time a grand jury had finally been convened on the Ammon murder. It was looking at both Danny and Generosa.

But Generosa had already been sentenced with a terminal illness. Nine months after Ted Ammon's murder, Generosa learned she had breast cancer that had metastasized. She spent her last months getting her house and affairs in order.

Sam Bruchay: That point in her life, what becomes most important is making sure that her children are cared for. Making sure that this wasteful spending is over. And that this big party that she had with Pelosi is done.

Dennis Murphy, Dateline NBC: How does she settle him out? 

Sam Bruchay: Well she's not indifferent to him. And she certainly knows that the police investigation is bearing down on the both of them. She not going to have to face it because she doesn't have long to live, but-- but she knows that Danny will be left holding the bag. And she doesn't want to leave him with nothing. 

So Generosa's lawyers drew up a postnuptial agreement, giving Danny $2 million for the anticipated cost of his murder defense.  

Dennis Murphy: Ted Ammon's $2 million to pay for his defense, charged with the murder of Ted Ammon.

Sam Bruchay: Ironic, huh?

Generosa died in August of 2003. Danny said his goodbye, as only Danny could. He picked up her ashes at the funeral home and took them to the bar at the Stanhope where he ordered drinks for the two of them. A newspaper photographer just happened to be there to capture the moment.

Gerald Shargel: My reaction was, you know as they say in Latin, "oy vey."

Gerald Shargel was Pelosi’s attorney.

Gerald Shargel: There's a story behind that which kind of ameliorates the vulgarity of the moment. This was a promise that he had made to Generosa. That's the bar they used to drink in. And it's kind of like, "here's to you babe.”

Less than a year later, in March, 2004, Danny was indicted for the murder of Ted Ammon. Reporter Sam Bruchay was with Pelosi the night before.

Sam Bruchay: Well, he certainly expected indictment. There was some confidence though that the case that the prosecutors had against him wasn't a very strong one. And that ultimately he was gonna walk.

Gerald Shargel: They have a circumstantial evidence case. And I suggest a weak circumstantial evidence case. There was no murder weapon. There was no direct evidence in the case. 

The prosecution's case had its problems. But they got help from someone close to the investigation: the defendant himself. In the two and a half years since the Ammon murder, Danny just couldn't keep his mouth shut. Prosecutors were building a good part of their case with words straight from the electrician's mouth.

Phoebe Eaton: There's something about the money in this case, the money was so stratospheric. It was every rich guy's nightmare.

Phoebe Eaton wrote about the Pelosi trial for "New York Magazine."

The wife starts carrying on with you know, one of the below stairs staffers and he comes and kills you in the night.

The Ammon murder trial began in October, 2004. A man-oh-man tabloid feast of an upstairs/downstairs affair, peppered with testimony about a dead man's fortune blown on trinkets. And at the center of it all was the now-41-year-old Danny Pelosi declaring his innocence.

Danny Pelosi: No, I did not kill Ted Ammon. I swear to God on my children.

Pelosi, remember, was paying for his high-power defense team with $2 million left by his late wife Generosa in a post-nuptial agreement.

Kieran Crowley: Danny Pelosi had the best murder defense that Ted Ammon's millions could buy. 

And it was all about Ammon's millions, according to the prosecutor.  Pelosi was upset with Generosa's pending divorce settlement--$25 million. He wanted more. So he beat Ted Ammon to death.

Janet Albertson: We're going to put an end to the flow of Ted Ammon's bucks into Mr. Pelosi's pocket. Because it's going to end in this courtroom here and now.

But in the absence of a witness or forensic proof of some kind, this was going to be a circumstantial case.

The prosecution put on witness after witness testifying that Pelosi had blurted out his guilt to them: a contractor recalled Pelosi telling him he was going to bash Ted Ammon's brains in.

And the nanny for the Ammon children testified that Pelosi had flat out confessed to her, boasting that he'd beaten the millionaire to death even as the man begged for his life.

And there was a woman Danny had an affair with during Generosa's final illness. Same story. She claimed Danny bragged about killing Ammon.

Kieran Crowley: She said, "Well, why did you do this?" And he said, "Because--" And he became very emotional and thumped his chest and said, "Because I gotta monster inside me."

There was more: a jailhouse snitch.

Sam Bruchay: Pelosi told him that he beat Ted Ammon to death with a baseball bat.

The prosecution said that Ammon had been immobilized by a stun gun.  And it told the jury that Pelosi had owned and even playfully used a stun gun on co-workers.

Prosecutors also talked to the jury about that elaborate security system in the East Hampton house with its array of secret cameras. Not many people knew it even existed, according to the man who installed it.

John Kundle: There was a few people who knew. Obviously myself, a worker of mine, and Danny, of course.

Not only did Danny know its location, the prosecution argued, Pelosi also knew how to defeat the system, so he could carry out the murder undetected.

And the security system's missing hard drive reinforced the prosecution's case.

Gerald Shargel: The fact that it was missing, absence of evidence, was probably just as compelling as the presence of physical evidence.

And it didn't help him that Danny’s own father testified against him about a conversation they had the day following the murder.

Phoebe Eaton: Danny approached him and said, "You know, if you had something and you wanted to get rid of it, you know, put it somewhere where no one would ever find it, how would you do it?" 

The defense replied that there was no love lost between Danny and his father and the same was true, it argued, of each of the witnesses who's testified against him. All had axes to grind.

Then, rare for a murder case, Pelosi surprised the courtroom by taking the stand in his own defense, swearing that he was nowhere near East Hampton that night. He was in Manhattan until midnight, he said, and then drove to his sister's house, 40 miles away from the murder scene.

Danny Pelosi: I have cell phone records and sites that prove the locations and whereabouts of me to a tee for Saturday night, October 20th through Sunday morning, October 21st. I arrived at my sister's house and I turned on the video screen to see what was going on out in East Hampton.

Remember, those cameras could be remotely accessed on a computer. And Danny’s sister had been monitoring the house on a laptop. The night of the murder the sister testified that Danny arrived at her house around 1:30 in the morning, and logged on to the computer.

Danny Pelosi: I saw a woman coming out of the bathroom. There was a man down by the door. And I'd rewind it and I reviewed it and I saw a couple of different clips of different people on this laptop computer. 

Then she said at 2 a.m. Danny’s buddy Christopher Parrino arrived at the house, and the two of them went out for beer. Danny's niece buttoned up the back end of the alibi saying she saw her uncle back by three. The defense conclusion? Not enough time for Pelosi to drive 40-miles to the Hamptons, carry out the murder, clean up the crime scene and get back.

Gerald Shargel: A lot of the emphasis was on the timeline to prove that it was physically impossible for Danny Pelosi to have committed the crime.

Pelosi said he didn't do it but he did offer up a theory on who did or had it done. None other than his late wife, Generosa. He said she'd asked him if he knew a hit man to kill Ammon, asking him if he'd do the murder himself. Pelosi said he answered "no" to both.

Danny Pelosi: When she asked me, I went right to people who I was around in my crowd the most and said, "She's whacked, man. She offered me 50 grand to (bleep) tune up Ted." She wants me to kill him.  

And in a case already sweaty with sexual treachery the defense offered one last theory of the crime.

It told the court Ted Ammon was sexually conflicted, and on his last night had an encounter with an unknown man on the darkened beach by his house. An assailant, it alleged, who returned to Ammon's house with him and beat his brains out. The defense's support for that speculation was Ammon's final cell phone call to his girlfriend.

Sam Bruchey: It's 9:44, and what he tells her is that he had passed by a beach. He thinks it's a gay beach. He's seen a couple of men at the beach, and he's scared, so he's going home.

Phoebe Eaton: Then the question is, how could Ted Ammon not know it was a gay beach? This was a notorious gay beach in the Hamptons. What was he doing on a beach at 9:40 at night? Was he walking the dogs? Or was he in search of a tryst?

Gerald Shargel: So to encounter something like that and on the same night meet his death at the hands of others, seemed just too much of a coincidence. And I think that by itself raised reasonable doubt.

And as if the case couldn't get anymore lurid, a male neighbor testified that he's quite certain that he had fleeting anonymous sex with Ammon in the bushes a few years before.

Wagner: It was Ted Ammon I mean he wasn't introduced to me before. I had no idea who this man was that I was with, but when I saw his photograph in the newspaper I knew it was him.

Kieran Crowley: Literally, he was laughed out of court.

Michael Shnayerson: And no one who knew Ted Ammon well thought there was any likelihood that he's gay. He certainly has had a long history of enjoying women's company.

After eight weeks the case about staggering wealth matched by staggering treachery went to the jury.

If convicted of second-degree murder as charged, Pelosi could face 25 years to life in prison.

Tool-belt guy: guilty or not?

After three-days of deliberation, a jury of nine women and three men reached a verdict. Danny Pelosi was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Ted Ammon.

Daniel Pelosi: I was floored. I was a-- I was like you gotta be kidding me. You've really got to be kidding me. 

Kieran Crowley: He looked gut-punched. He really believed that he had done a great job on the stand, and he really believed that he was walking out of there.

But he wasn't. He was going inside for a long time -- his sentence -- 25 years to life.

Pelosi now resides in New York’s Clinton correctional facility in Dannemora, New York. The locals call the town Little Siberia. The lock-up is where you'll find some of New York's hardest cases.

Danny Pelosi: I'm an inmate. I'm Dan Pelosi, din (PH) number 058-27-06. 

It's been more than three-years since his conviction, but Pelosi still proclaims his innocence.

Danny Pelosi: Hello? Confess to what? Co-- confess to what, to killing Ted Ammon? Di-- you will-- till the day I die you will never hear that.  I did not do it. 

And one reason why not?

Pelosi will tell you that bludgeoning someone to death wouldn't be his style at all.

Danny Pelosi: You've seen the kinda guy I am-- would I go the distance for my own family? Yes. Would I-- if it came to life or death between you and my children? Yes. Enh? But would I mercilessly beat you to death? No. Would I put one in your head to get over it? Yeah.  

But after his conviction, Pelosi implicated his buddy Christopher Parrino, the guy he went on a beer run with that night.

The next day, Danny says the two were on their way to Manhattan, and he claims he saw something in the truck his friend Parrino had been driving. It was nothing less than the digital video recorder that had been torn from the secret hiding place in the Ammon house.

Danny Pelosi: I said, "That's-- what the **** are you doin' with that?" I pull the truck over by a creek. I jump out of the truck, I walk over to Chris. I said, "Give me this ****in' thing." I take the unit. And I wing it. From the passenger door.

If that story has a grain of truth, there went any video evidence of what happened in the house where Ted Ammon was killed.

As for the buddy, Christopher Parrino, he was charged with helping Danny cover up the crime. He pleaded guilty and struck a deal with the authorities.

He admitted to driving Pelosi to Ted Ammon's house in the middle of the night. He claimed that Danny emerged from the house disheveled -- bloody. He told Parrino he "Had a fight with Ted... I think he's dead," he supposedly said.

Parrino served 4 months in jail. His attorney told Dateline that Pelosi’s claims are baseless and just another desperate attempt by Pelosi to shift the blame for his crime.

As a footnote to all this, since being in prison, Danny Pelosi has remarried.

Wife number 3. He met Jennifer Zolonowski, a 28-year-old bank teller several months after Generosa died. She was there for him in court, every day, pregnant with his child.

Jennifer Pelosi: He has, you know, his faults. Nobody's perfect. But he's, you know, a good person in his heart. He would never wanna see anybody hurt.

The child born to Danny and Jennifer Pelosi was named Nick.

As for the other two children--Generosa and Ted’s twins--they inherited nearly all of their father's fortune, as Generosa had cut Danny out of her will. The twins were adopted by Ammon's sister and her husband in Alabama.

Far from the cottage on East Hampton’s middle lane.

A place of great money and ultimately great blood.

Danny Pelosi is appealing his conviction.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

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