November 27, 2004

Suspect in Banker Death Predicts Acquittal

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - Now that prosecutors have rested their largely circumstantial case against him, the electrician charged with beating his girlfriend's millionaire husband to death is predicting he will be found innocent.

"I'll be home soon," Daniel Pelosi said after the prosecution rested Wednesday. "If that's their case, now you know why they couldn't arrest me" until more than two years after the killing.

Pelosi, who has a 20-year record of drunken driving and other offenses, has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence. The defense hopes to convince jurors that Daniel Pelosi couldn't have committed the crime.

"He was never in East Hampton, and at the time Ted Ammon died his whereabouts are accounted for," attorney Gerald Shargel said.

Prosecutors called 40 witnesses over six weeks for their case against Pelosi, who has been held without bail since March on second-degree murder charges in the October 2001 slaying of Theodore Ammon.

Three witnesses claimed Pelosi confessed to them that he killed Ammon, 52, while the millionaire banker slept in his Long Island mansion. He was struck more than 30 times on the head with a blunt object and had numerous broken ribs and other injuries.

Shargel, a law professor at Brooklyn College who once represented the late mobster John Gotti, intends to make a motion for acquittal when the trial resumes Wednesday, but conceded the maneuver was not likely to succeed.

"I don't think they've proven their case," he said. "We have a defense case to present and we're ready to go forward."

Pelosi, 41, was having an affair with Ammon's estranged wife, Generosa, at the time of the slaying. Authorities said his motive was money.

Pelosi and Generosa Ammon were married three months after the slaying, although they later split. Witnesses testified that Pelosi spent more than $6 million of the Ammon fortune after he married the victim's widow.

When she died of cancer last year, Pelosi retrieved her ashes from a Manhattan funeral home and was photographed having a farewell drink at their favorite hotel bar.

A sophisticated security system that was installed in Ammon's home under Pelosi's supervision was unplugged at the time of the killing and the system's computer hard drive disappeared. Testimony showed Pelosi was one the few people who knew where the hard drive was hidden.

Pelosi's father, voluntarily testifying for the prosecution, said that hours after the killing Pelosi sought his advice on disposing of something so it would never be found.

In addition to testimony that he confessed to three witnesses - a former girlfriend, a fellow jail inmate and Ammon's nanny - a former co-worker said Pelosi told him a year earlier about his plan to get the millionaire's money.

"I'll bash his brains in while he's sleeping," he allegedly told James Nicolino.

When told of Pelosi's boast that he'd be home soon, prosecutor Janet Albertson snapped: "That's why defendants like Mr. Pelosi are presumed innocent, not intelligent."