Darryl Daniels: Former Clay County sheriff officially charged with evidence tampering, false reports to law enforcement

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has been officially charged with the four counts was facing, stemming from allegedly asking his deputies to arrest his former mistress Cierra Smith in May 2019.

According to court documents filed Wednesday, he is charged with a felony count of tampering with physical evidence and three misdemeanor counts of false reports to law enforcement authorities. (SEE THE DOCUMENTS BELOW)

On the count of tampering with physical evidence, authorities said Daniels altered or destroyed a cellphone or stored data on a cellphone “knowing that a criminal trial ... was pending,” according to the documents.

On the three counts of false reports to law enforcement, Daniels gave false information to a deputy “by falsely stating that he had attempted to obtain an injunction or by falsely stating that he had ended his relationship with Cierra Smith but Ms. Smith continued to follow him.”

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The documents allege that he falsely stated “that he never requested searches for information to be conducted on governmental databases on individuals for his personal use.” He is also said to have falsely stated “that he did not cause certain applications to be placed upon his government cellular telephone.”

Action News Jax first reported in May 2019 when Sheriff Darryl Daniels reportedly accused Smith of stalking him and ordered his deputies to detain her. She was never arrested or charged but many questioned how Daniels handled the events of that night.

The pair admitted they had a long-term affair while Daniels worked at JSO and Smith was his subordinate. Daniels was also running for sheriff at the time.

In June 2019, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed it was investigating Daniels.

In July 2020, State Attorney Melissa Nelson asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to reassign the criminal investigation of Daniels due to a conflict.

On August 13, 2020, Daniels was arrested and booked into the Clay County Jail. On Aug. 14, DeSantis suspended Daniels -- the week of the Florida Primary Election -- and on Aug. 15, Matt Walsh was named the interim sheriff of Clay County.

Sheriff-elect Michelle Cook won the Republican ticket in the primary election, and since her only opposition withdrew from the race, she became the automatic winner of the General Election.

On Sept. 1, DeSantis appointed Cook to start her term early.


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