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.