CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella announces that Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave has been arrested and charged with eight felonies as part of an ongoing investigation into Sheriff Brave’s misuse of Strafford County credit cards.
“The decision to charge an elected constitutional officer was not made lightly,” said Attorney General Formella. “However, no person is above the law, and the evidence in this case required action. It is my hope that the public will be reassured that there will be equal justice under the law for every person in this State – including public officials.”
Sheriff Brave is charged with one count of Theft by Deception (a class A felony) for stealing approximately $19,000.00 in Strafford County funds by submitting personal expenses for reimbursement with fraudulent justifications; two counts of Falsifying Physical Evidence (both class B felonies) – one for submitting false reimbursement justifications, and one for altering a receipt submitted for reimbursement; and five counts of Perjury (all class B felonies) for lying in his testimony before the Strafford County Grand Jury during the course of the investigation.
The charges against Sheriff Brave are only allegations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The affidavit filed in this case alleges that Sheriff Brave spent approximately $19,000 on personal expenses – including airfare, hotel stays, and dinners for personal trips to Boston, Florida, and other locations.
Sheriff Brave is alleged to have deceived Strafford County officials and attempted to hide the personal nature of these purchases by falsifying one receipt to remove the identity of a female companion, and by submitting numerous false justifications for reimbursement – false justifications such as attending conferences and meetings that he did not attend, that did not exist, or for organizations that did not exist.
Sheriff Brave is also alleged to have lied during his testimony before the Strafford County Grand Jury on a variety of matters.
The first Perjury charge involves a female employee who traveled with Sheriff Brave to Florida. The woman had previously told investigators that she did not stay in the same hotel room as Sheriff Brave, but had stayed with family instead. She later admitted to the grand jury that she did stay in the same hotel room as Sheriff Brave, but Sheriff Brave is alleged to have repeated her earlier version of events, denying that she stayed in the same hotel room and claiming that she stayed with family.
The second Perjury charge concerns allegations that Sheriff Brave stated that he attended events for a fictitious law enforcement organization.
The third Perjury charge relates to a trip Sheriff Brave took to Maryland. Sheriff Brave told the grand jury that he was scheduled to meet with U.S. Representative Chris Pappas, but that the Congressman had to cancel the meeting and gave Sheriff Brave a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol as an apology. Records from the Congressman’s office indicate that no such meeting was ever scheduled, and no such gift of a flag as an apology ever took place. Rather, based on investigation, Sheriff Brave is alleged to have actually met a paramour who lived in the area.
The fourth and fifth Perjury charges concern a dinner cruise and hotel stay for Sheriff Brave in Boston. Sheriff Brave told the grand jury that he purchased the tickets in advance for him and a male deputy to attend a charity fundraiser. However, based on investigation, Sheriff Brave is alleged to have bought the tickets on the same day as the cruise for himself and another paramour to attend the event together – which was on the paramour’s birthday. Sheriff Brave is further alleged to have alternatively claimed in his testimony that that he did not remember the trip, that no one stayed with him at his hotel, and that he did not recall if his paramour spent the night with him – before later admitting that the paramour spent the night with him at the hotel for romantic and sexual purposes.
After his arrest, Sheriff Brave was released on a personal-recognizance bond pending his arraignment in superior court. Sheriff Brave is facing up to 31½-to-64 years in prison and fines of up to $32,000 if convicted on all counts.
This case is being investigated by New Hampshire Department of Justice investigators and is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Joe Fincham and Assistant Attorney General David Lovejoy of the New Hampshire Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Unit.
The investigation that lead to these charges remains active and ongoing. Anyone from the public who has information relevant to the investigation is encouraged to contact Investigator Allison Vachon at: (603) 271-0102 / Allison.P.Vachon@doj.nh.gov.