Latest Updates: August 14, 2020
CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Cierra Smith, the woman involved with the Sheriff Darryl Daniels’ scandal, plans to take legal action.
Darryl Daniels has been suspended from office by Governor Ron DeSantis.
August 14, 2020 12:22 PM
New documents have been released regarding the Sheriff Daniels’ investigation. Click here to read them.
Latest Update: August 13, 2020 10:07 PM
After being booked into the Clay County Jail and released, Sheriff Daniels’ released the below statement:
Update: August 13, 2020
Sheriff Daniels has been booked into the Clay County Jail.
Action News Jax Bridgette Matter spoke with Daniels’ lawyer, Matthew Kachergus, and he stated, “He plans to continue to seek reelection and I find the timing of the obtaining of a warrant and pressing of charges suspicious in light of an election that’s pending five days from now. It would appear that the timing of this is designed to influence the outcome of that election.”
According to multiple law enforcement sources, Clay County Sheriff Daniels refused to step down after being told he’ll face criminal charges in the investigation against him.
Action News Jax has learned from sources with direct knowledge that Sheriff Darryl Daniels told some staffers that he was given three days to resign or face criminal charges in the investigation involving his former mistress.
We’re told the probe involves whether Daniels misused his power when he had Sierra Smith detained. Daniels accused her of stalking but she was never charged.
The Daniels and Smith affair began when they both worked at JSO.
Special prosecutor Brad King refused to confirm any contact with the Sheriff. We also reached out to the Governor’s office for comment and never heard back.
Our source also said Daniels refused to step down by saying, “They’ll have to drag me out of here”
Update: July 2, 2020
State Attorney Melissa Nelson asked the Governor to reassign the criminal investigation of Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels due to a conflict.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that they have opened an investigation into Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels.
We first reported in May when Sheriff Darryl Daniels accused a woman of stalking him. That woman was Cierra Smith, a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office corrections officer. She was not charged.
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.
FDLE told Action News Jax’s Paige Kelton that the investigation involved Sheriff Daniels but did not go into details about the allegations.
Smith's attorney LaToya Williams Shelton released the following statement:
"We are fully cooperating with the FDLE as it relates to its investigation and will continue to cooperate. We hope they make the proper decision as it relates to this wrongful arrest because it was done out of emotion not professionalism."
The investigation comes after an anonymous letter was sent to FDLE and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis complaining about Sheriff Daniels' behavior.
Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole went down to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to get answers about the letter.
In an anonymous letter, addressed to Gov. DeSantis, someone claiming to be a Clay County Sheriff’s Office employee says: "I'm writing you concerning Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels, and his current state of mind due to the pressures from a (possible) FDLE investigation."
A source tells Action News Jax the person who wrote the letter is a high-ranking officer within the department and wrote it on behalf of fellow officers.
The letter alleges that during a "patrol briefing" two weeks ago on June 14, Sheriff Daniels began talking about someone leaking information about him on Facebook. The leaked information is regarding the scandal with JSO Corrections Officer Cierra Smith.
In the letter, the writer claims Sheriff Daniels wanted to "determine who it was and murder the [expletive] that leaked it."
He also accused Sheriff Daniels of going on a "rant" about how they would "put him in jail for beating up people" when he's no longer sheriff.
Cole went to the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday to ask Sheriff Daniels about the accusations in the anonymous letter. Deputy Chris Padgett, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, told Cole the sheriff was not there and could not tell her where the sheriff was.
The spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office told Cole they cannot comment on the letter because it has no connection to the Sheriff's Office -- there's no seal, [typed] name, or signature on the letter.
The person who wrote the letter is calling for the sheriff to be replaced by someone from the outside until the FDLE investigation is complete.
Gov. DeSantis is the person who has the power to make these types of changes.
When Gov. DeSantis was in Jacksonville last month, we asked if he thinks Sheriff Daniels is fit to run Clay County.
Here’s what Gov. DeSantis said:
"When I get information, I will look at it, and as you know, the governor has constitutional authority to deal with certain local officials, and countywide elected would be one, and there is certain things, if you fall into one of those, the governor has the power to take action."
Action News Jax reached out to the governor Wednesday to see if he received the anonymous letter and if he's considering taking any action.
We're still waiting to hear back.
Cole also reached out to all five Clay County commissioners to get their reaction, but no one called her back.
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