The Sherriff of Clay County, FL, Darryl Daniels, confessed to his wife that he was having an affair with an employee of his for six years. Then, he has his mistress arrested.
In May 2019, Daniels came clean to his wife Denise about his affair with one of his correctional officers, Cierra Smith. Daniels and Smith met in 2013 when he was the chief of Jacksonville’s jails, and she was undergoing her first week of job orientation as a new corrections officer, WJXX reports. The pair exchanged contact information and began meeting weekly for sex. Over the six-year-long affair, the two took a vacation to Costa Rica together, and when Smith married another man just two years into the affair, Daniels gave the bridal toast at her wedding.
Smith’s husband caught on eventually though, and alerted his wife’s new bosses, in addition to confronting Daniels. That’s when Daniels knew it was only a matter of time before his own marriage crumbled and decided to confess. The week after Daniels told his wife Denise, he and Smith planned to still see each other for their weekly meeting. It would be their first since their secret had come out, but this time Daniels had one of his own. He was setting Smith up.
When Daniels saw Smith’s car approaching their regular meeting spot, he allegedly radioed emergency dispatch, calling for backup. He told them he was being followed by a stalker in a Jeep and was in “imminent danger.”
Smith was arrested and held in police custody for six hours before deputies decided they didn’t actually have probable cause to book her on stalking charges, so she was released. Now, following a year-long investigation, Florida authorities arrested Daniels, charging him with one felony count of tampering with evidence, as well as three misdemeanor counts of giving false information to other law enforcement officials, according to the Florida Times-Union. He was later released without bond.
Daniels has acknowledged and publicly apologized to his wife Denise for the affair, but as far as his attempt to have Smith arrested, he claims he’s innocent. With the scandal surfacing publicly just days before he is up for reelection, Daniels has refused to resign or drop out of the race. He calls the whole thing “suspicious” timing, but assures the incident will not affect his job performance.
“I want you to look past the smokescreen of dirty politics,” he said in a video Thursday. “One thing I take ownership of as a man is my failures as a husband. That has nothing to do with me as a sheriff.”
With five new, hopeful candidates taking on Daniels in Tuesday’s elections, the sheriff’s lawyer, Matt Kachergus, alleges authorities issued the warrant this week in order to in an effort to “influence the outcome of that election.”
“The question that I want you to ask yourself, and I don’t have the answer to it, is this: Why today? Why couldn’t it wait? Unless there was some ulterior motive behind the decisions to impact a political race,” Daniels said.
During the time of the initial probe in June 2019, an anonymous letter was sent to had been sent to state officials, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, from an alleged Clay County Sheriff’s Office employee. “He is losing touch with reality and appears violent, ” the employee wrote of Daniels. “We are concerned about not only our reputation of the Sheriff’s Office but also our safety. … PLEASE HELP US!” The anonymous employee urged DeSantis to fire Daniels and claimed that the sheriff threatened to “murder” staff members who spoke openly to state investigators or leaked any information on social media.
Daniels’s office refused to comment on the anonymous allegations publicly, Smith has now resigned from her job, and Daniels’s wife has filed for divorce.