Sheriff Daniels' ex-lover drops JSO appeal, still faces termination

Cierra Smith claims yearslong affair began when she was 21, he was 48

By Frank Powers - Assignment manager, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Cierra Smith, whose yearslong affair with Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels spilled into the headlines earlier this month, has withdrawn the appeal of her termination with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office department’s disciplinary board, but a city panel will have to decide if she can be fired.

Smith faced termination Friday as the result of an Internal Affairs investigation that began after Smith was arrested in North Carolina, accused of breaking into her estranged husband’s apartment. The department sustained complaints against Smith for domestic criminal trespass, not being truthful, conduct unbecoming an officer and failure to maintain work standards.

A complaint that Smith, a corrections officer, and Daniels had sex while Daniels was chief of the jail for the Jacksonville County Sheriff's Office years ago was dismissed.

Smith has asked for a hearing before Jacksonville's Civil Service Board. Until that’s resolved, Smith will remain on unpaid suspension from the JSO.

Earlier this month, she was accused of stalking Daniels after the two had ended a long relationship, but charges were never filed.

Smith told News4Jax that her affair with Daniels began in 2013, when she was a 21-year-old corrections officer and Daniels was 48 and the head of the division of JSO where she worked. They went on vacation together as recently as last November.

"I will say that, what I have done, on my own, I can own up and I can apologize (for) and say what I have done, that was wrong of me," Smith said.

Micolucci: When you started that relationship, did you know he had a wife?
Smith: I did. 
Micolucci: Were you married?
Smith: I was not married.
Micolucci: And he was your boss?
Smith: He was.

Darryl Daniels and Cierra Smith in Costa Rica

Smith would later marry a man who she said was unhappy about her relationship with Daniels and reported it to JSO, which prompted her to be demoted to desk duty at the jail last September.

"And from that point on, being that he brought the sheriff’s name into it, of course, it drew big attention," Smith said. "And from that point on, as my case went on and investigations and things that my husband kept releasing to JSO, it just kept growing bigger and bigger and bigger, until now, when it has basically exploded. It’s out."

WATCH: Uncut interview with Cierra Smith

There were allegations that Smith and Daniels were intimate on JSO property while on the job. She denies that, saying it was strictly personal. Smith's attorney provided photos of Daniels and Smith vacationing together last fall in Costa Rica. Smith provided the I-TEAM with flight records for the trip and a ticket to Universal Studios that Daniels had bought for her.

She said Daniels also gave her cash.

"Over the years, it was well over $30,000," Smith said. "It was either, 'Hey, Darryl, I need money,' and he would send it, or it was, 'Hey, this needs to be paid,' and he would pay it."

Smith provided News4Jax with a list of 88 transactions she received through a mobile app, totaling approximately $30,700 dollars. The list showed transactions in various amounts made periodically from Jan. 20, 2018, through March 29, 2019. The transactions on the list ranged from as little as $20 to as much as $1,400.

"Never a point in time where I was extorting him or he felt like I was holding something over him to where he had to make payments to me," Smith said.

The investigation soured the relationship, although she said they have been intimate in recent months.

On May 6, Daniels accused Smith of stalking him with a gun in her car. He reportedly asked his deputies to arrest her. She said it was supposed to be a meeting to talk about things, but she believes the sheriff set her up.

"I have been painted in the light of a stalker. I’ve been painted in the light of a psycho with a gun. I’ve been painted as this evil person," Smith said. "I just want to make sure that my name is cleared up, that, for one, I’m not a stalker. Never been a stalker to anybody and I’m not trying to bring any harm to nobody."

Cierra SmithSmith said she’s licensed to carry a gun as a permit holder and a corrections officer. She said her 7-year-old daughter was in the car at the time.

Micolucci: Did you ever or do you currently want to hurt Darryl Daniels, his family, his reputation, anyone involved?
Smith: At no point in time did I ever want to or do I ever want to hurt his wife, him or anybody else that is associated with him.

Daniels told News4Jax that Smith was recently Baker Acted and questioned her credibility. Smith said she was taken to the hospital at the beginning of May because she was stressed out and upset about possibly losing her job. She talked to a therapist and spent the night. She said she is not a danger to herself or anyone else.

"Ultimately, when I did go to the hospital, the Baker Act was lifted because there is no need for the Baker Act. The therapist that I spoke to the hospital simply said that, 'This is more of a stressful situation for you than anything,'" Smith said.

Smith claimed that despite the public embarrassment and stress, she has no ill will toward Daniels. She just wants this chapter closed.

"We are both adults and we both have to own up to it," Smith said. "So pushing it on one person or pushing it toward somebody else is not the way that we're going to get this resolved at this point."

Asked if she thinks Daniels should continue to be sheriff, Smith said she doesn't think his personal life has anything to do with his work ethic or the way he conducts himself in Clay County.

There are also allegations Smith is pregnant. Earlier this month she would not confirm or deny that, but she said if there is a baby, it's not Daniels'.

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