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Strafford Dem Brave Considering New Plea Deal

A new plea offer is on the table for former Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave, the lawman charged with stealing taxpayer money to fund his love life.

Brave, who was forced to resign last year after getting caught lying to the court, rejected the original plea agreement dangled by prosecutors in March. His counter proposal was then rejected by the state. But instead of heading to trial, Brave and lawyers with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office agreed to enter into mediation. 

Mediator Peter Fauver met with both sides this week and issued an order on Wednesday. Fauver’s order is currently sealed. Michael Garrity, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, told NHJournal the clock is now ticking.

“The parties were given until May 24 to resolve the matter by plea or the case will return to the trial track,” Garrity said.

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.

Brave’s saga started last year when county officials became suspicious of his spending habits with the county credit card. According to the investigative report, Brave was using his county card to buy plane tickets, hotel rooms, and meals for his extramarital affairs. While he was under investigation, Brave refused to step down and instead lashed out in the press, claiming he  was the victim of political bullying and accused County Commissioner George Maglaras of racism.

When he was charged last summer on theft and perjury counts, Brave initially refused to go on paid administrative leave, but finally bowed out under pressure from county commissioners.

Brave got in trouble again soon, this time for violating his bail conditions, lying about where he lived, and hiding money in order to qualify for a free defense attorney, according to court records. 

Brave was not supposed to stay living in New Hampshire under the bail order set by the court, an order he ignored when he paid a year’s lease on an apartment in Massachusetts and bought himself a sports car. At the same time, Brave claimed he did not have enough money to pay for a lawyer.

When prosecutors discovered he did not live at the Dover address he used in court, they sought to have his bail revoked. They also accused him of additional theft for taking his sheriff’s salary while living in another state. Brave got out of that jam by agreeing to resign from his position. 

It remains to be seen if the mediated agreement also lets him stay out of jail.

Brave made headlines in 2020 when he became New Hampshire’s first elected Black sheriff. The new Democratic star ran a Black Lives Matter-friendly platform, agreeing to reform police. One of his campaign promises was to end the practice of having cops in schools, a promise he broke when he signed a contract with the Farmington School District for his office to provide a school resource officer. Such contracts bring in needed revenue to the department.