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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.

Grand Jury Indictments Move Former Sheriff Brave’s Case Forward

The criminal case against former Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is moving into the next phase as a grand jury returned eight felony indictments on Friday.

Brave is accused of stealing $19,000 in county money, tampering with evidence, and multiple counts of perjury. Brave was charged in August. The indictments effectively mean a grand jury confirmed the charges had merit. That clears the way for trial.

Brave resigned as sheriff last week after prosecutors caught him lying about living outside New Hampshire. Brave violated his bail when he moved to an apartment in Tewksbury, Mass., in October.

The move also meant Brave was legally ineligible to serve as an elected county sheriff. Brave went on paid administrative leave in August and had been collecting his pay until last week. He reportedly took home more than $10,000 since moving out of state.

Assistant Attorney General Joe Fincham and Assistant Attorney General David Lovejoy accused Brave of stealing taxpayer money by collecting his salary while living in Massachusetts. The prosecutors pushed to get Brave’s personal recognizance bail revoked until he quit the job.

Lief Becker, Brave’s attorney, said the resignation corrected the residency problem, and prosecutors dropped the move to send Brave to jail pre-trial.

Fincham and Lovejoy still want Brave to face consequences for reportedly lying to the court about where he lives and about his finances. Though he managed to stay out of jail by quitting his job, the prosecutors want Brave to face a contempt hearing for his other lies discovered in recent weeks.

Rockingham Superior Court Judge Daniel St. Hilaire revoked Brave’s free public defender last month as prosecutors showed he lied about being unable to afford private counsel, telling the court in October he couldn’t afford it. However, at the start of October, he reportedly paid more than $50,000 upfront for a year’s rent on the Tewksbury apartment. Later that month, Brave bought himself a 1968 Porsche 356.

When investigators went to the Dover apartment where Brave told the court he resided, they spoke to his now ex-wife, Jamie Brave. That was when they learned Mark Brave no longer lived in New Hampshire, and that he came into a substantial amount of money from selling the couple’s Dover home.

According to Jamie Brave, both she and her husband walked away from the sale of their home with $240,000 apiece. Brave also got the couple’s Mercedes SUV in their divorce agreement. And while Brave claimed he was paying tuition for two of his three children, Jamie Brave told the investigators he was paying for one child’s tuition.

On the public defender application, Mark Brave claimed he got $190,000 from the house sale and ended up with $3,500 after he used his money to pay off marital debts.

Whatever sanctions are on the table for the contempt hearing, they pale to the theft case, where he faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.

The indictments handed up by the grand jury include a Class A felony theft charge, two Class B felony charges of falsifying physical evidence, and five Class B felony charges of perjury. Class A felonies carry potential seven-and-a-half to 15-year prison sentences, and Class B felonies come with three-and-a-half to seven-year terms.

Brave Gives up Sheriff Gig To Avoid Jail

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.  

Sheriff Brave Stays Out of Jail — For Now

Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave (D) is not going to jail for allegedly lying and stealing while on bail for allegedly lying and stealing.

At least, not yet.

Brave, 38, was set to appear in Rockingham Superior Court on Tuesday to face a bail hearing. Prosecutors say he lied about his income and violated his bail by moving out of state. But the sheriff still had no defense lawyer when he appeared in court Tuesday. Judge Daniel St. Hilaire pushed the bail hearing back to Dec. 12 to give Brave time to finalize his representation.

Brave said he is in the process of hiring attorney Leif Becker.

Prosecutors say Brave moved to Massachusetts days after he was ordered to stay in New Hampshire as part of the bail conditions in his theft and perjury case. Brave illegally collected more than $10,000 in salary for his elected sheriff’s position, according to prosecutors. 

Elected officials must reside in the state where they serve. Brave isn’t clocking in as sheriff since being charged, but he is collecting his salary while on administrative leave. 

Brave also lied about the money he got for selling his Dover home, prosecutors say. Brave claimed he didn’t clear enough money from the $1.5 million sale to pay for defense lawyers as planned. Debts and divorce expenses took most of the money, he said. 

But prosecutors say instead of paying a retainer to a law firm as he claimed he would, Brave bought a 1968 Porsche and prepaid a year’s worth of rent, about $50,000, on an apartment in Massachusetts soon after the sale went through.

Last month, St. Hilaire revoked the public defender assigned to Brave since Brave allegedly lied about being unable to pay for his own lawyer.

Brave was charged with theft and perjury last summer for allegedly stealing $19,000 in county money to fund his extramarital affairs with multiple girlfriends.

Prosecutors Want Dem Sheriff Brave’s Bail Revoked, Behind Bars

A middle-aged man buying a sports car while going through a divorce might not be a crime, but Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave could end up in jail after treating himself to a 1968 Porsche, according to court records.

The first-term Democrat is already facing eight felonies for stealing taxpayer money to fund his love life. Now prosecutors say Brave lied to court officials about being too poor to pay for a lawyer ten days after he bought the classic car.

The new allegations against Brave, laid out in motions filed in the Rockingham Superior Court on Friday, are that the Sheriff lied under oath about where he lived, lied in his written application for a free public defender, lied to the judge when questioned about his finances, and lied again to Strafford County taxpayers when he collected $10,000 in salary despite no longer living in New Hampshire. 

Prosecutors want to revoke Brave’s bail, saying he committed at least one count each of felony theft and perjury since being arraigned in the original case on Sept. 28. They are seeking a bail hearing as soon as possible.

Brave’s already had his free public defender canceled when the state raised questions about the truthfulness of his financial disclosures this week. It was those disclosures and his prior sworn testimony about his living situation that could send him behind bars.

According to the motions filed by Assistant Attorneys General Joe Fincham and David Lovejoy, days after he was released on bail, Brave paid more than $50,000 to a Tewksbury, Mass. couple for a year’s rent on an apartment in the Bay State. The couple would tell investigators Brave does, in fact, live in Massachusetts. That’s the location where Brave had his Porsche delivered on Oct. 17, according to photos he posted on his Instagram account, Fincham and Lovejoy write.

“LOOK WHAT FINALLY ARRIVED THIS MORNING FINALLY!” Brave posted with photos of the 1968 Porsche 356 soft-top convertible. 

Brave has since taken his account private, and the photos were not included in the filing. Porsche 356s from the 1960s can range in price from about $100,000 to much more depending on the model year and features.

For Brave, living outside New Hampshire isn’t just a violation of his bail order. It’s also against state law for elected officials to live outside the state while serving, and getting paid to serve. Brave, who is on paid administrative leave, has collected more than $10,000 in salary since he signed the Massachusetts lease.

Brave is also accused of being less than forthcoming about his living situation. During a status of counsel hearing on Oct. 26, he told Judge Dan. St. Hilaire said he could not afford the $75,000 to $100,000 retainer for legal representation from Shaheen & Gordon. When questioned about his living situation, Brave swore under oath that he lived in an apartment in Dover. 

What Brave didn’t know during the Oct. 26 status hearing where he allegedly perjured himself is that investigators had already been to the Dover apartment and spoken to his soon-to-be ex-wife, Jamie Brave. 

Jamie Brave told the investigators Mark Brave lived in Massachusetts and she lived in the Dover apartment. She would later tell investigators Mark Brave had much more money than he claimed in court.

According to Jamie Brave, both she and her husband walked away from the sale of their home with $240,000 apiece. Brave also got the couple’s Mercedes SUV. And while Brave has claimed he’s paying tuition for two of his three children, Jamie Brave told the investigators he’s paying for one child’s tuition. 

On the application for a public defender, Mark Brave claimed he got $190,000 from the house sale and ended up with $3,500 as he used his money to pay off debt. 

Jamie Brave told the investigators that her husband had his mail forwarded to the Dover apartment, and at one point asked her to put his name on the lease. She declined.

Brave seems to have a poor relationship with the truth. He’s already charged with perjury for allegedly lying to a grand jury about who he was traveling to Florida with on the County dime. It was a woman not his wife.

This week, the County released an internal report about Jamie Brave’s December 2022 driving under the influence arrest. According to the report, Mark Brave lied to county officials and his deputies about the arrest. Mark Brave went with a story that he was home with his children when his wife was arrested. 

“She should have called an Uber,” Brave reportedly said.

In truth, he was also in the car at the time and he was too drunk to drive, according to police reports. The Sheriff was taken into protective custody after blowing a 0.15 percent blood alcohol content, almost twice the legal limit. He was released into the custody of a friend, who is also a part-time deputy, according to the report. 

He’s reportedly lied about his college degrees and law enforcement experience, as well. 

 

Court: Brave Tried To Hide $1.5 Million To Score Free Lawyer

Caught not reporting $1.5 million in revenue, Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is now under court order to pay for his own defense lawyer.

Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Daniel St. Hilaire canceled Brave’s free public defender Tuesday after prosecutors requested an emergency hearing. According to court records, prosecutors say Brave lied on his financial disclosure forms when he first applied for a public defender, leaving proceeds from the sale of his Dover home off his list of assets.

Brave cried poverty when he was approved for a public defender on Oct. 26, though he had already sold the 17 Schooner Drive home on Sept. 29. Brave did not list revenue from the home sale on his application for a public defender. The home sold for $1.5 million.

Brave was arraigned on charges he stole taxpayer money to support his hook-up lifestyle on Sept. 28. At that hearing, Brave represented himself, saying he could not afford a lawyer. Brave said he planned to hire Shaheen and Gordon to represent him once the house sale went through. 

Brave is facing the possibility of 63 years in prison and blames his current legal predicament on political vendettas and racism. He claimed Strafford County Commissioners George Maglaras, Robert Watson, and Deanna Rollo made up the allegations as part of a political maneuver. Maglaras, Watson, and Rollo are all elected Democrats. Brave’s also accused Maglaras of racism. According to Brave, Maglaras called him a “token.”

County Administrator Ray Bowers went to County Attorney Tom Velardi last spring after finding suspicious purchases Brave made with his county-issued credit card, according to records made public in the investigation. Verladi referred the matter to New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella’s office for investigation.

According to the affidavit written by New Hampshire Attorney General Investigator Allison Vachon, Brave repeatedly used his position and public money to fund his relationships with various paramours. 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, Fla.

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 employee Freezenia Veras.

Brave had hired a woman, Veras, to a new position he created for her in March 2022. Veras’ 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. As a result, Veras was getting more in her paycheck than certified deputies in Strafford County- those qualified to engage in law enforcement. Brave would go on to 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 remains Strafford County Sheriff, at least until the next election. He is currently on paid leave from his job.

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.

Brave Heads to Arraignment Without Lawyers

Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is facing his arraignment on eight felony charges this week with confidence and determination.

But with no legal counsel.

Brave, on leave from his job since he was charged with allegedly stealing $19,000 in taxpayer money to fund his secret love life, still has no attorneys representing him. But he hopes to close the sale on his $1.1 million four-bedroom Dover home in time to pay lawyers.

“I plan to rehire Shaheen and Gordon on Friday, following the final closing on the sale of my house,” Brave told Foster’s Daily Democrat. “I have a call into them and am hoping they will represent me on Thursday, and I can settle up with them on Friday after the sale has been finalized and I have funds wired.”

As of late Tuesday afternoon, court records showed no lawyers had entered an appearance to represent Brave. 

Attorneys with the politically well-connected Shaheen and Gordon law firm represented Brave earlier this year while the state attorney general and local police were investigating Brave’s behavior. But that relationship seemed to have taken a break before New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella charged him.

Brave’s case was preemptively moved to the Rockingham Superior Court to avoid any potential conflict of interest in the Strafford Superior Court. Brave’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

The home Brave shared with his wife, Jamie Brave, is listed for sale with a $1,150,000 price tag. Real estate websites indicate a sale is pending. Records on file with the Strafford County Registry of Deeds showed Brave and his wife are not married at this time. Janie Brave goes by her maiden name, Jamie Spencer, in the records. 

Brave is accused of using county money for travel to Florida, Maryland, and Boston to spend time with different women. At one point, when Brave was confronted with video evidence that he used taxpayer funds for a romantic weekend with one woman in Boston, Brave was unable to recall her name, according to court records.

“Her name is … um … Let me see, I forget which one this is. I’ve been dating a lot of people,” Brave testified before the grand jury.

Brave is accused of stealing the money and lying to the grand jury. He is charged with eight felonies, including theft, perjury, and falsifying evidence, and could be sentenced to up to 64 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

County officials contacted the attorney general this spring when irregularities with Brave’s spending were discovered. Brave has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, blaming the accusations on political bullying from the county commissioners.

Like Brave, all three elected commissioners, George Maglaras, Robert Watson, and Deanna Rollo, are Democrats. At one point, Brave accused Maglaras of racism. Brave told the Rochester Voice that Maglaras called him “the token Black guy, and the token’s gonna be up soon.”

Brave is New Hampshire’s first Black elected sheriff, taking office in 2020 on promises of police reform. However, The Boston Globe reported this month Brave misrepresented his education credentials and law enforcement experience when he ran for office.

Brave claimed to have completed a master’s degree in forensic psychology, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in forensic psychology. However, The Globe found Brave did not earn any of those degrees and that he was never even enrolled in SNHU’s forensic psychology program. 

Dover Cops Investigating Sheriff Brave After Phone Call From Paramour

Mark Brave, the Democratic Strafford County Sheriff charged with allegedly stealing taxpayer money to fund his love life, is also the subject of a Dover Police investigation, NHJournal has learned.

Authorities are not saying what prompted the Dover investigation into Brave, but clues in the public affidavit supporting theft and perjury charges indicate it could be linked to one of the women he was dating.

Investigators with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit knew Brave lied about a February trip he took to Maryland but didn’t know why he went there until Aug. 7, just 10 days before charges were announced.

That was when a Maryland woman, Kenisha Epps-Schmidt, first contacted Dover Police. During her conversation with Dover officers, Epps-Schmidt disclosed she was having an affair with the married Brave, and he had flown down in February to see her. Brave allegedly used his county-issued credit card to pay for the tryst.

It is not clear why Epp-Schmidt contacted Dover Police in the first place. Chief William Breault refuses to release his department’s report, which NHJournal requested through a Right to Know request. According to Breault, his department’s report is in the hands of the attorney general.

“(The report) is not releasable at this time as it has been sent to the N.H. Attorney General’s Office and is part of an ongoing and open investigation,” Breault wrote.

Michael Garrity, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella’s spokesman, confirmed the report’s existence, but would not discuss its contents because of the ongoing investigation.

“Yes, we received a report from Dover Police Department, which is part of our ongoing investigation into Sheriff Mark Brave,” Garrity said.

That raises the possibility Brave could face more charges for whatever allegations are made in the Dover report. 

Epp-Schmidt initially agreed to speak with NHJournal about her relationship with Brave when contacted on the phone, but immediately hung up after the first question: “Why did you contact Dover Police?”

Investigators already knew Brave’s story about the February Maryland trip was dubious. Brave told investigators this summer that he went to Maryland to meet with Congressman Chris Pappas, but Pappas canceled at the last minute. In a thoughtful gesture, Pappas gave Brave an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol by way of apology for the missed meeting.

It just took one phone call to Pappas’ office for investigators to establish Brave was never on Pappas’ schedule for the dates he claimed. 

“No relevant staff had any personal recollection of such a meeting with Brave ever being scheduled with the D.C. office, nor could they locate any records reflecting the scheduling of a meeting,” the affidavit states.

Brave did get a flag from Pappas — just not in February of this year. According to records from Pappas’ office, the only flag Pappas ever gave Brave was in June 2022, when the congressman visited Brave in the Strafford County Sheriff’s Office.

Formella announced eight felony charges against Brave on Aug. 17 after months of investigating New Hampshire’s first elected African American Sheriff. Brave allegedly stole more than $19,000 in taxpayer funds for airfare, hotel stays, and meals. Many purchases were connected to trips with at least three women.

Brave is charged with one count of theft by deception, two counts of falsifying physical evidence, and five counts of perjury. If convicted on all counts, Brave would face a 31-to-64-year prison sentence.

Dover Police didn’t initially contact Formella’s office about Brave, but rather by Strafford County Attorney Tom Velardi, according to the affidavit. Velardi took the case to the attorney general soon after County Administrator Ray Bower reached out about Brave’s suspicious spending.

Brave is currently free on personal recognizance bail and due to be arraigned in court later this month. His case was transferred to the Rockingham Superior Court to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Court records indicate Brave currently does not have an attorney representing him.

Brave is on paid leave from his position pending the criminal case’s outcome.

Strafford County Sheriff Brave On Paid Leave As Fraud Case Moves Forward

Disgraced Strafford County Democrat Sheriff Mark Brave, facing a 24-hour deadline from the county commission, announced Monday night he would step down from his post and accept paid leave while his criminal case moves forward.

The county’s three-member commission voted earlier Monday to give Brave until noon Tuesday to go on paid administrative leave or face an expulsion vote by members of the county delegation of elected representatives.

Monday night, he caved.

“As I continue to ensure that you all are informed of processes, I wanted to let you know I have made the difficult decision to take administrative leave while the investigation, due diligence, and the legal process continues,” Brave said in a statement. “While I maintain that I am innocent, and none of my spending of [sic] out of state line items was due to deceive the county or the people of Strafford County, I do want to make sure that the wonderful team at SCSO is able to function without added stressors to their already difficult positions.”

Brave added, “This is a personal fight that should not impact the office.”

Chair George Maglaras said during Monday morning’s hearing it was the third time the commission had asked Brave to place himself on leave since they became aware of the criminal investigation.

Brave was arrested last week on eight felony charges stemming from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit investigation into his alleged misuse of a county credit card. Brave is charged with theft, falsifying evidence, and five counts of perjury for allegedly lying to a grand jury.

Brave is free on personal recognizance bail. However, the bail conditions make it all but impossible for him to do his job, Maglaras said. Brave cannot have contact with several members of his staff, nor can he contact members of the county administration staff. He is also prohibited from possessing a gun. All of the people he is prohibited from talking with are considered witnesses in the upcoming criminal case.

“In the opinion of the commission, it is impossible for Sheriff Brave to exercise his constitutional role to run that office when he can’t have contact with his staff. It’s as simple as that,” Maglaras said.

County delegation chair Rep. Peter Schmidt (D-Dover) said Monday morning he had hoped Brave would take the commission’s offer and goes on paid leave. If he hadn’t, Schmidt said, he was prepared to act.

“We are obviously looking at the necessary preparations for the proceeding if it goes that way,” Schmidt said.

While on leave, Brave will continue to receive his salary. Last year, his base salary was a little more than $72,000. Brave also earned about $10,000 in overtime pay. While on leave, he’s still under the court ordered rules of his release. For example, Brave could be jailed if he does contact his staff and other county staffers named in the bail order.

While Brave is an elected official and answerable to voters, he is also bound by some of the same rules as county employees, Maglaras said. Both Schmidt and Maglaras maintain Brave is not being treated any differently from other county officials in being asked to take paid leave during an open criminal case.

“We didn’t change anything for Sheriff Brave,” Maglaras said.

Brave could be jailed for breaking a court order if he does contact his staff and other county staffers named in the bail order.

Brave allegedly conducted multiple affairs using his county credit card to pay for his trysts.

Since Brave’s arrest last week, Bower has made sure his county credit card is canceled. However, Bower said Monday there is a new suspicious charge to the card that is being investigated.

Brave wrote a $600 check to cover his golf foursome for the county’s Make a Wish fund, which helps pay for final requests for nursing home residents in their last days. 

“That check bounced,” Maglaras said.

Brave’s unraveling began in April when County Administrator Ray Bower discovered unusual charges on Brave’s county-issued credit card. Bower had a meeting with Brave and asked about the charges for a trip to Fort Lauderdale, including first-class airfare and a single hotel room with one king-sized bed.

Brave allegedly lied to Bower, claiming he went to Florida with a male deputy for a conference. Braved joked about the sleeping arrangements, but the single bed stuck in Bower’s mind.

“I had the feeling that something just wasn’t right,” Bower said.

Bower and county finance staff dug deeper and found that instead of a male deputy, the married Brave went to Florida with a female employee, Freezenia Veras. Bower contacted County Attorney Tom Velardi, who then contacted the Attorney General’s Office.

Months before the Fort Lauderdale trip, Brave created a new position in his department, chief of support services, for Veras and was paying her more in salary than his sworn-in and certified deputies. There was reportedly no formal job description for the chief of support services, and Brave had Veras handling his expense receipts, including the paperwork for the trip to Fort Lauderdale.

Brave allegedly lied to grand jurors that he slept in the hotel while Veras stayed with friends. Veras, unbeknownst to Brave, contradicted that story in her grand jury testimony and admitted they shared the room, according to records released in the case.

Brave is scheduled for arraignment on the charges in Rockingham Superior Court next month.