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Clay County Sheriff arrested, charged after sex scandal investigation

The FDLE opened an investigation at the request of State Attorney Melissa Nelson's office after Daniels had his mistress, Cierra Smith, arrested in May 2019.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels was arrested and charged Thursday following a long-running sex scandal investigation, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office arrest log.

Around 5:49 p.m., CCSO's arrest log showed Daniels, 55, was booked with three felonies and one misdemeanor, including tampering with evidence and two counts of knowingly giving false information to law enforcement officers. Shortly after, this information was removed from the log.

New charging documents were released Friday, showing Daniels is facing one felony and three misdemeanors. 

RELATED: Clay County sheriff's sex scandal arrest documents detail charges against him

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Credit: WTLV
Booking information for Sheriff Darryl Daniels arrest on Thursday.

Following his arrest, Daniels released a video public statement regarding the situation. During the statement, he said the charges were "baffling to him because it takes a stretching of the imagination to understand personally knowing that I'm innocent."

Earlier Thursday, Daniels was offered a choice by Special Prosecutor Brad King: resign immediately or be arrested, according to multiple sources both in law enforcement and within the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

The FDLE opened an investigation at the request of State Attorney Melissa Nelson's office after Daniels had his mistress, Cierra Smith, arrested in May 2019 on allegations of stalking. Daniels has admitted to having an affair with Smith, his subordinate, for several years, a relationship that began when Daniels was the director of the Duval County Jail and Smith was a correctional officer.

Smith was stripped of her duties by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office during an internal investigation that included allegations she had sex with Daniels at work. That allegation was not substantiated, but other misconduct claims were. Smith resigned and no longer works for JSO.

Last month, Nelson asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to reassign the investigation to a different prosecutor because one of her employees could be called as a witness, which posed a conflict.

"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," Daniels' attorney Matt Kachergus said in a statement Thursday. "It would appear that the timing of this is designed to influence the outcome of that election."

RELATED: 'You've been warned' | Clay County sheriff says he’ll deputize every gun owner if deputies can’t handle protesters