Post by Sarah Ehrett Post by firstname.lastname@example.org
You could not have known Harry Lee Cole like I did one of the greatest men ever.
Never heard of Coe, so I was curious. The original post is from July
14 2000 and says Coe was under investigation by Florida authorities.
Tampa State Attorney Found Dead
By VICKIE CHACHERE
(c) The Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - The county's top prosecutor apparently shot himself
to death under an expressway after the state began an investigation
into loans he got from subordinates.
State Attorney Harry Lee Coe III, 68, had disappeared from his office
Wednesday, shortly after Gov. Jeb Bush ordered the probe. Attempts to
reach him by cell phone, pager and at his home failed, and his body was
found Thursday morning under a highway, several hundred feet from his
He died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, police Lt. Jane
Several assistant state attorneys went to the scene, some in tears,
some embracing each other. Coe's body, covered with a white sheet,
appeared to be slumped against one of the expressway pilings.
Ida Coe, his ex-wife, arrived with their adult son and criticized the
Tampa-area media, which had covered his problems extensively in recent
"It's a way of destroying a person and it's a shame," she said. "You
put yourself in that position and you would probably do the same."
A former circuit court judge, Coe was elected Hillsborough County state
attorney in 1992. He was seeking his third four-year term in November.
On Wednesday, the governor had ordered the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement to look into allegations Coe solicited loans from two
employees and erased public records being sought by the news media.
In January of last year, Coe borrowed about $12,000 from two people he
supervised - $7,000 from a now-retired investigator in his office and
$5,000 from his chief of personnel. Coe later repaid the loans.
Coe said he saw nothing wrong with borrowing money from employees he
considered longtime friends. He would not say why he turned to friends
instead of going to a bank, and offered no explanation for why he
needed the money.
Chief of Personnel Deanna Easterling said Coe repaid the loan when a
reporter began asking questions in June.
Coe's salary as state attorney and pension as a former judge exceeded
$216,000 a year. Financial disclosure forms filed with the state show
that Coe's personal debts had grown since mid-1999 from $102,000 to
Coe repeatedly declined to discuss reasons for his debt. He frequented
dog tracks but told The Tampa Tribune on Tuesday that he was not
WFLA-TV had made a public records request for information from Coe's
government-issue laptop computer to determine if the state attorney had
visited racing sites online.
The computer files showed that Coe had visited only two Web sites,
neither racing-related. Coe and his staff denied tampering with the
Simon Canasi, a Tampa stockbroker who has known Coe since 1992, said he
was shocked by his friend's apparent suicide.
"I knew he was troubled by this, I knew he was feeling some stress by
this," Canasi said. "If you had asked me if I thought he would take it
to this extreme, there's no way. The man was 68 years old and he
probably felt he couldn't deal with it anymore."