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Disgraced Dem Brave’s Valentine’s Day Date Pushed Back

The lawman with a big heart, Mark Brave, could be getting a gift from prosecutors in the form of a plea agreement. Just not on Valentine’s Day as requested. 

The former Strafford County Sheriff is due in Rockingham Superior Court on March 4 for a dispositional hearing, originally scheduled for Tuesday. Facing the deadline, and preparing a plea agreement offer, Assistant Attorney General Joe Fincham asked for a change to Feb. 14 hearing last week.

“The State has not yet provided Defendant with a formal plea offer in this matter due to specific details of the plea not being finalized, but the State anticipates being able to make a formal offer in the next two weeks,” Fincham wrote.

But romance is dead, and proof is the fact the court’s clerk set the date for March.  

Brave is accused of stealing almost $20,000 in taxpayer money to fund his illicit love life and he faces several felony charges connected to his alleged extramarital affair-fueled thefts. 

Brave was New Hampshire’s first elected Black sheriff and a rising star in the state Democratic Party until his self-inflicted scandal forced him out of the job.

Brave allegedly used his county-issued credit card to fly out of state to meet his paramours. He also booked hotel rooms and restaurants in Boston for romantic getaways and even took dates to an indoor water park. When the criminal investigation into his credit card use became public, Brave accused fellow Democrat and Strafford County Commissioner George Maglaras of being a racist. 

Though Brave agreed to go on administrative leave last summer after he was indicted, the trouble did not stop. He is accused of lying to the court and violating his bail conditions. 

Brave was allegedly less than truthful about how much money he had after his divorce in order to obtain a free public defender. Instead of using his money for a lawyer, Brave reportedly bought a classic 1968 Porsche and paid $50,000 to rent an apartment in the Bay State.

At the time Brave moved to his Tewksbury, Mass. apartment, he was under a bail order to live in New Hampshire. Brave allegedly got around that by giving prosecutors and court officials a false address in Dover.

When that house was discovered, Fincham told the court Brave was essentially stealing money by collecting his sheriff’s salary while living out of state. With Fincham demanding his bail be revoked and the prospect of new charges looming, Brave resigned his job last month.

Busted for Hooking Up, Sheriff Brave Goes Solo in Arraignment Hearing

Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is charged with crimes related to his hookups with women, allegedly paid for with public money. But on Thursday, Brave was alone, representing himself during his arraignment hearing in a Strafford County courtroom.

Brave, who is accused of stealing taxpayer money to fund his secret love life and then lying about it to a grand jury, still does not have a lawyer. That may not matter much yet, as the hearing in Rockingham Superior Court was more of a formality to get the case started.

The Strafford County Democrat entered pleas of not guilty to the eight felony charges brought against him, and he remains free on bail with the same restrictions imposed when he was arrested last month. Brave, who is on paid leave from his sheriff’s job, is prohibited from contacting numerous Strafford County employees, including several members of the sheriff’s office staff.

The only minor change in his bail was Brave has moved out of his Schooner Drive home in Dover, and he will be allowed to leave the state when he drives his daughter to a private school in Lawrence, Mass.

“I’m a single dad,” Brave said in court.

Selling the Schooner Drive home is key to Brave’s legal defense. He said this week he plans to use the sale proceeds to hire an attorney. The home was listed on real estate websites for $1.1 million, with indications that a sale is pending.

It has been a steep fall from grace for Brave, once a rising star in the New Hampshire Democratic Party. Brave, the first African American elected sheriff in state history, had backing from the party’s mainstream and progressives in the Black Lives Matter movement.

His endorsement in the Democratic primary race for governor was a big enough get that Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington (D-District 2) put his backing on her website. The campaign later removed his name without comment.

The criminal probe into Brave came to light because he started talking to the press. In June, he disclosed the existence of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit investigation and used the opportunity to preemptively deny the allegations. He also accused Strafford County Commissioners George Maglaras, Robert Watson, and Deanna Rollo of creating the accusation as a game of dirty politics. Maglaras, Watson, and Rollo are all elected Democrats. 

As the investigation was heating up behind the scenes, Brave went to the press again and accused Maglaras of racism. According to Brave, Maglaras called him a “token.”

In fact, County Administrator Ray Bowers went to County Attorney Tom Velardi this spring when he found suspicious purchases Brave made with his county-issued credit card, according to records made public in the investigation. Verladi did not investigate Brave due to the potential conflict of interest but instead contacted the attorney general.

According to the affidavit written by New Hampshire Attorney General Investigator Allison Vachon, Brave repeatedly used his position and public money to fund his romantic trysts. There were plane trips, hotel stays, meals, and even a family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge, though it is not clear if the Great Wolf Lodge weekend was with his family or the family of a woman he was dating. 

County officials had been concerned about Brave’s spending outpacing his budget for months when an audit found Brave had “maxed out” his county credit card. According to Vachon’s affidavit, the audit also turned up suspicious receipts for an August 2022 trip to Fort Lauderdale.

While Brave would give Bowers and, later, investigators multiple rationales for the Florida trip, it turned out to be an excursion with female Strafford County Sheriff’s Office employee Freezenia Veras.

Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave created a new position in his department for employee Freezenia Veras.

Brave hired Veras for a new position he created just for her in March 2022. Veras’ new title as chief of support services/public information officer didn’t come with a job description, but it did come with a $79,000-a-year salary. Those wages made Veras higher paid than the certified deputies in the office, the ones qualified to engage in law enforcement. Brave would eventually have Veras sworn in as a special deputy, giving her the power to arrest people.

Veras would eventually tell Vachon she and Brave went to Florida to research her new job with other law enforcement agencies. Veras told investigators Brave claimed the meetings were canceled at the last minute, and she spent her time shopping and hanging out by the hotel pool, the affidavit stated.

Brave allegedly used taxpayer funds for trips with multiple women, and then repeatedly lied about it, the affidavit stated. He is charged with eight felonies, including theft, perjury, and falsifying evidence for stealing at least $19,000 from the county. Brave could be sentenced to up to 64 years in prison if convicted on all counts. 

Brave remains Strafford County Sheriff, at least until the next election. He is currently on paid leave from his job. Veras no longer works for the sheriff’s office.

Report: Sheriff Brave Under Investigation for Alleged Theft of Public Funds

Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is under criminal investigation by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit for allegedly misusing public money for trips to Florida with a woman who is not his wife.

The source of that information? Sheriff Brave himself.

Brave, the state’s first elected African American sheriff, took the questionable step of announcing the investigation to Foster’s Daily Democrat reporter Karen Dandurant.

“They are raising all these allegations and rumors, trying to discredit me,” Brave told the reporter. “This is a political attack by people who are supposed to be in my corner.”

The Attorney General’s Office did not comment on the investigation. According to a copy of a letter Senior Assistant Attorney General Dan Jimenez sent to Brave, the sheriff is being investigated for theft, falsification in official matters, and abuse of office. Jimenez’s letter did not provide details about the allegations.

Brave has been at the center of scandal for more than a year as questions have swirled around the $100,000 contract his department received from Frisbie Hospital, where his wife Jamie was the chief nursing officer. The hospital recently terminated the contract early after questions were raised about how Brave secured that revenue.

Hospital representative Ellen Miller said the contract getting canceled had nothing to do with any investigation.

“The contract between Frisbie Memorial Hospital and the Sheriff’s Department states that it can be terminated at any time, and Frisbie Memorial Hospital exercised that right simply because our security department is fully staffed, so we no longer need the services of the Sheriff’s Department,” Miller said.

Jamie Brave served as chief nursing officer until her arrest in December for drunk driving. Sheriff Brave was in the car at the time of his wife’s arrest and was reportedly too intoxicated to drive as well.

A whistleblower told NHJournal that Jamie Brave made the introductions for her husband with key hospital staff leading up to him first getting the contract.

Now the spotlight is on back Mark Brave again.

He told Dandurant the investigation centers on trips he took to Florida with a female employee using county money. He said investigators are implying that he is having an affair with the employee. After raising the issue, he denied the affair and denied misspending public money. His office budget includes $18,000 for travel expenses, he said.

“I misspent nothing. We send deputies out all the time to visit other departments to gain fresh ideas. … That is what this was,” Brave told Dandurant.

Brave also denied using public money to pay for the employee’s housing.

According to Dandurant’s article, County Commissioners Deanna Rollo and Bob Watson, both Democrats, and County Attorney Tom Velardi urged Brave to take a leave of absence after learning of the investigation. Democrat George Maglaras, the county commission’s chair, was not at that meeting and is considered a witness to at least one issue.

Commissioners also tried to have Brave put on the state’s Exculpatory Evidence schedule, or Laurie List, for police officers with known credibility problems, Brave told Dandurant. He said the commissioners voted after it hired an outside firm to investigate Brave.

“The commissioners had no right to launch this investigation against me,” Brave told Dandurant. “They are like sharks circling the water now, looking for anything they can bring up. I am fighting this, and I will continue to do so. It is a blatant attack on my name and what I have done here.”

Jiminez’s letter instructs Brave to essentially place himself on the Laurie List.

“I am also providing you with this notice so that you may notify the appropriate prosecuting agencies covering your jurisdiction with Brady v. Maryland … and State v. Laurie …” Jimenez wrote.