Democratic Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave found his “Get Out of Jail Free” card. He quit his job.
Until Tuesday, the accused fraudster was on paid leave while his case moved forward. Then, he was caught hiding that he was living in Massachusetts in violation of a court order and, therefore, illegally collecting more than $10,000 in pay as an elected official. Facing the loss of his bail deal, Brave bailed on the sheriff’s job rather than going directly to jail.
Prosecutors went to Rockingham Superior Court in Brentwood on Tuesday to ask Judge Daniel St. Hilaire to revoke Brave’s personal recognizance bail. The surprise resignation, announced in court, paved the way for a new bail agreement. Brave’s new attorney, Leif Becker, said the resignation settled the legal problems the Massachusetts move had caused.
“The resignation corrects the bail issue,” Becker said.
Becker argued in his motion to keep the personal recognizance bail in place that Brave is not a flight risk. Many defendants in cases at Rockingham Superior Court live or work in Massachusetts, and Brave should be allowed to move freely between the two states, according to Becker’s motion.
The Tewksbury, Mass. apartment where he is living is a 45-minute drive from the courthouse, compared to the 35-minute drive from his former home in Dover, Becker wrote.
Brave originally claimed he needed to be able to go to Massachusetts in order to drive his daughter to private school every day.
It has been a rough year for Brave. Once hailed as a rising star in the New Hampshire Democratic Party, he is the state’s first elected Black sheriff.
Now, he faces several felonies alleging he stole $19,000 in taxpayer money to fund his extramarital affairs with out-of-state paramours. He has since gone through a divorce and has been forced to sell his house. Tuesday Brave faced the final indignity, giving up his job.
(He does get to keep the 1968 Porsche he bought.)
Even though Brave managed to stay out of jail this week, he is not out of the legal woods just yet. Prosecutors filed for an indictment extension this month, seeking more time to bring charges to a grand jury.
Assistant Attorney General Joe Fincham declined to say Tuesday if that extension meant Brave could be indicted on additional criminal counts. Fincham plans to push for a contempt hearing against Brave based on the latest alleged financial and residency lies told by Brave. It was unclear what the result of a contempt finding could mean for Brave, as it is up to St. Hilaire to decide.
There is still some possible good news for Brave. Prosecutors plan to offer him a plea bargain in the coming weeks. Plea agreement offers are standard in criminal cases and do not necessarily mean the defendant will accept the agreement.
Brave is due back in court on Jan. 30 for a dispositional hearing; at this point, more may be known about the plea offer.