• FDLE confirms investigation into Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels

    By: Action News Jax

    Updated:

    CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - 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.

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    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. 


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    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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