Gannet News While he still vacillates between regret and indignity over what happened in Iraq, he has given up thoughts of going back to retrieve a separate bundle of money that he says he found and buried in the sands — and Army investigators never discovered.
Less than two years ago, Earl Coffey stood on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, a broken man, holding his Army uniform, photos and military medals in his hands.
The son of Kentucky coal miners, Coffey had watched his life unravel after his theft of a dictator’s desert treasure became an almost biblical curse — running through his hands like sand, landing him in prison and sending him on a downward spiral of homelessness, divorce and drug addiction.
With nothing left, Coffey tossed the remnants of his 13-year Army career into the surf — and began a long walk home to the Appalachian mountains of Harlan County, Ky. . .
Coffey, 36, has since rebuilt a quiet life among the coal mines that he escaped by joining the Army — only to become one of seven U.S. soldiers convicted in 2003 of “looting and pillaging” for his part in stealing the $586,000 in cash he found in one of Saddam Hussein’s bombed-out Iraqi palaces.