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.