FDLE lays out its evidence against former Sheriff Daniels

Agency also reports he pressured CCSO officers into making campaign donations

By Don Coble don@opcfla.com
Posted 1/20/21

CLAY COUNTY – The State Attorney’s Office revealed last week the Florida Department of Law Enforcement currently has 67 witness who’ve been interviewed in the case against former Clay County …

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FDLE lays out its evidence against former Sheriff Daniels

Agency also reports he pressured CCSO officers into making campaign donations

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – The State Attorney’s Office revealed last week the Florida Department of Law Enforcement currently has 67 witness who’ve been interviewed in the case against former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels related to an extramarital affair, subsequent coverup and pressuring CCSO officials to make campaign contributions.

Daniels was arrested on Aug. 13 on one count of destroying or tampering evidence and making three false claims to law enforcement about his girlfriend. His legal team demanded the state turn over all investigative reports related to his arrest and the long-standing extra marital affair he had with a former subordinate when he worked with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The state’s discovery exhibit was filed on Jan. 6 with the Clay County Circuit Clerk of Courts, and it contained details of the affair, Daniels attempts to cover up some of his exchanges with the girlfriend and other agency officials and his demands for campaign contributions from fellow officers.

The report detailed what it believes was a desperate attempt to hide personal information relating to the affair with Cierra Smith. The affair became public on May 6 when Daniels called CCSO and demanded Smith be arrested for stalking him. FDLE and Smith contend Smith had a prearranged meeting set up by another deputy at 370 Oakleaf Plantation Parkway with Daniels to return some CDs.

Daniels sought an injunction against Smith earlier in the day for following and harassing him, but the Fourth Judicial Circuit of the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville refused, saying he lacked significant evidence, according to the FDLE. CCSO conducted a traffic stop on Smith and Daniels demanded her to be arrested. She was taken to the Clay County Jail, but was quickly released without charges.

The FDLE then was called in to investigate the charges, as well as an anonymous letter to the FDLE Daniels threatened his deputies about working against him.

The state agency said Daniels met with Undersheriff Ricardo Wright, Community Affairs Chief Patrick Golemme and Patrol and Community Affairs Director David Barnes before the arrest and told them charges were going to filed against him and “that he may be going to jail.”

The FDLE contends Daniels asked the sheriff’s office to reset his personal phone because there was information on the phone he didn’t want “to see the light of day.” The report said Daniels denied ever using his sheriff’s office cellphone for personal business.

On Aug. 11, the FDLE said Daniels said at a Fraternal Order of Police Meeting he was going hunting and when he returned, there would be a reorganization and “that some people may not want to stick around because they are not going to like where they were going to be put.”

According to the FDLE, (Chief Joseph) Bucci said Daniels told him on Aug.12: “I know you want to be the sheriff one day; you’ve talked about it. I want to give you a little taste of what it’s like, So, I need you to reach out to all of the staff: $5000 per director, $2000 for chiefs, etc. Look, I’m not saying all of their money. I want their boots or toes in the water.”

Daniels was arrested on Aug. 13. He was suspended by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Aug. 14 and defeated by Michelle Cook in the Aug. 18 Republican Primary.

Daniels continues to insist the timing of his arrest was to keep him from winning re-election. Some of the witnesses listed by the FDLE include: Bucci, Wright, Golemme, Barnes, Smith, Clay County Schools Police Chief Kenneth Wagner, former Undersheriff Raymond Walden and Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.

Daniels, who was released without bond, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on March 8. A trial date hasn’t been set.

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled Circuit Judge R. Lee Smith of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, will preside over a possible trial. The seventh circuit is comprised of Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties.

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