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After Rejecting Deals, Brave Could Face Additional Charges

Former rising Democratic Party star Mark Brave once thought he could play the race card and beat the rap over his alleged mishandling of taxpayer funds.

After he was arrested, the former Strafford County sheriff appeared to believe he could leverage a sweetheart deal by rejecting plea bargains from prosecutors.

Instead, after delaying the case for months, Brave may now face even more criminal charges if he decides to face a jury.

Brave is currently facing up to 64 years in prison on Stratford County charges for allegedly stealing taxpayer money to pay for his extramarital affairs and then repeatedly lying about it to a grand jury.

Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Joe Fincham told Rockingham Superior Court Judge Andrew Schulman in a June 12 motion he plans to seek more indictments against Brave if the case does go to trial as scheduled on Aug. 5. 

Brave, who made history when he was elected New Hampshire’s first Black sheriff, could get another record in the books by becoming the state’s first elected sheriff to go to prison. He was a progressive favorite who ran a pro-Black Lives Matter campaign to reform law enforcement before he was caught stealing money to pay for multiple out-of-state liaisons with many different women who were not his wife, according to court records.

These possible new indictments would likely cover Brave’s alleged misdeeds as sheriff in Strafford County and his lies to Rockingham County court officials after he was charged. According to Fincham, Brave knew he could be charged with more by turning down a deal and going to trial.

“During prior hearings in this matter, the state informed the court and counsel for the defendant that in the event a plea agreement was not reached in this matter, the state would consider superseding the Strafford County indictments currently pending in this matter, as well as potentially seeking additional indictments in Rockingham County for conduct that has occurred during the litigation of the Strafford County indictments,” Fincham wrote. 

While he was being investigated last year, Brave accused members of the Strafford County Commission of targeting him because they were racist. All three members of the commission are elected Democrats.

Once he was indicted, Brave’s case was moved to Rockingham County to avoid a conflict of interest. It’s in Rockingham County where Brave is accused of lying to court officials about his income and his place of residence. 

Brave was assigned a free public defense attorney last year when he claimed he was essentially broke following his divorce. However, it came to light Brave was, in fact, flush with cash after the sale of his marital home in Dover. He had enough money to buy a 1968 Porsche and pay a year’s lease on an apartment in Massachusetts, according to court records.

On top of hiding the money from the court, Brave also violated an order from Schulman to live in New Hampshire pending trial. Brave got around that order by telling the court he was living in a Dover apartment while he was really living in Massachusetts. 

When Brave’s lies were discovered, Fincham threatened to charge him with theft for receiving his New Hampshire sheriff’s salary while living out of state and revoke his personal recognizance bail. According to Fincham, Brave is required to live in New Hampshire as an elected official. Brave had been collecting his salary while out on paid administrative leave.

Brave got out of that jam by resigning his position in December in exchange for not going to jail right away.

Brave turned down a plea agreement offered by prosecutors earlier this year, and refused to sign on to a mediated plea agreement reached last month. That forced Schulman to schedule a trial for the first week of August.

Fincham’s motion seeks to hold the trial schedule since there’s still a chance the case can be resolved with a negotiated plea. According to Fincham, talks between prosecutors and Brave’s attorney are ongoing.

If those talks fail and the case goes to trial, Fincham said the new indictments he plans to seek could come weeks before the jury is selected, giving little time for either side to file any necessary motions on the charges.

Fincham notes he will also need more time than Schulman has scheduled to call the numerous out-of-state witnesses he has planned. 

The Rockingham County venue for the trial is another issue that needs to be resolved before trial, according to Fincham. Brave has the constitutional right to have the trial on the original charges held in Strafford County. So far, there’s been no court finding that Brave cannot have a fair trial in Strafford County, and Brave has not formally asked to change the venue from his home county, Fincham wrote.

Disgraced Sheriff Brave Trying To Talk It Out With Prosecutors

Lovelorn lawman Mark Brave is heading to mediation with the prosecutors in his felony theft case after the two sides failed to reach a plea deal.

Brave, the former Democratic Strafford County sheriff, is accused of stealing taxpayer money to fund extramarital liaisons. The scandal has so far cost Brave his marriage, his million-dollar Seacoast home, and his job. It could also put him behind bars for years.

Brave and prosecutors are at loggerheads over a possible plea agreement, including any incarceration, restitution, and fines. After the state made an offer to Brave and his attorney, Lief Becker, Brave countered with his own proposal. The state rejected Brave’s take on the deal.

Neither plea offer was available Tuesday.

Rockingham Superior Court Judge James Kennedy ordered Brave and prosecutors to try mediation to reach an acceptable plea agreement. Criminal mediation, also known as a felony settlement conference, typically involves a judge not connected to the case working with both sides to reach a consensus.

According to New Hampshire Judicial Branch Policy, cases suitable for felony settlement conferences involve defendants who admit wrongdoing. The conferences include input from the alleged crime victims as the judge guides all parties to a deal.

Failing a deal from the settlement conference, Brave will get a trial date for the eight felonies stemming from his alleged theft and coverup. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 64 years in prison.

Brave was a rising star in the New Hampshire Democratic Party as the state’s first elected African American sheriff when his illicit love life caught up with him. The formerly married Brave was using his government-issued credit card for plane tickets, hotel rooms, and expensive meals with at least three other women. At one point in the investigation, Brave was unable to name one of the women he was seen with, as he could not remember them all.

While under investigation last year, Brave publicly lashed out at the elected Strafford County commissioners, all Democrats, who he blamed for the scrutiny from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. Brave even accused his fellow Democrats of being motivated by racism.

Brave’s troubles got worse after he was charged with stealing $19,000 in taxpayer money, perjury, and destruction of evidence. Under pressure from county officials, he agreed to go on paid administrative leave. The court also ordered him to continue living in New Hampshire pending trial.

But Brave lied to the court and prosecutors about his living arrangement and finances, according to court records. Brave hid the fact he cleared hundreds of thousands of dollars for himself selling his marital home in Dover for $1.5 million, and cried poor to get a free public defender, according to a report filed by prosecutors.

While he told the court he couldn’t afford a lawyer, Brave prepaid $50,000 for a year’s lease on an apartment in Massachusetts and bought a 1968 Porsche convertible, the state claims. Brave got around the court order to stay in New Hampshire by lying to the court and prosecutors and giving them the address of his now ex-wife’s Seacoast apartment.

Prosecutors moved to revoke Brave’s bail and threatened to hit him with new theft charges for illegally collecting more than $10,000 in salary as an elected New Hampshire official living out of state. Brave and Becker reached an agreement in December in which Brave finally resigned as sheriff in exchange for staying out of jail.