DOVER, N.H. — Strafford County Sheriff Mark A. Brave, who was already facing felony charges for allegedly lying to a grand jury, was slapped Friday with fresh accusations that he lied to a judge as well.
Brave told the court, under oath, in October that he was residing with his soon-to-be ex-wife at an apartment in Dover after they sold their house. But his wife, Jaime Brave, told investigators her estranged husband didn’t live there. He had asked to be included on her lease, but she declined, according to court records.
Prosecutors concluded Sheriff Brave signed a lease for an apartment of his own in Tewksbury, Mass. That spells trouble for a few reasons. It could land him in jail and might even cost him his title and paycheck.
First, the lease raises questions about Sheriff Brave’s finances. His new landlords told investigators he paid for the full 12 months and security deposit up front, with a banker’s check for $53,300, with an Oct. 1 move-in date, according to prosecutors.
A few weeks later, Brave told the court he couldn’t afford to hire his own attorney because he had only about $5,000 available and his recurring costs — including his monthly housing costs — exceeded his income. So the judge agreed to assign a public defender at taxpayer expense in October. The judge revoked Brave’s court-appointed attorney in November after questions arose about the accuracy of Brave’s statements about his finances.
Jaime Brave, who declined to speak with the Globe, told investigators that she and her husband each received $240,000 from selling their home for more than $1.1 million in September. Sheriff Brave told the court he was using proceeds from the sale of his house to pay back taxes, other debts, and tuition for two children. His wife said he was paying for just one child’s tuition.
Aside from paying for his 12-month lease up front, prosecutors said Brave also appears to have recently purchased a 1968 Porsche convertible.
Second, Brave wasn’t supposed to travel outside New Hampshire while awaiting trial, except to transport his daughter to functions related to her private school in Lawrence, Mass. Brave told the court he got “a place” in Tewksbury to meet his daughter’s school-related needs. But prosecutors allege he was living there, in violation of his bail conditions.
Prosecutors argue Brave is “unlikely to abide by any condition or combination of conditions of release,” so they are asking a judge to throw him in jail while he awaits trial.
Third, state law stipulates that the sheriff must be domiciled in the county he or she serves, and an official who is no longer eligible to vote in the area they represent “shall be considered to have resigned.” So prosecutors allege Brave has been ineligible for his office since the beginning of October.
Brave placed himself on paid administrative leave in August, at the urging of fellow county officials, so he has continued to receive his regular county paycheck. Prosecutors now allege Brave’s recent paychecks constitute theft by deception, since he’s allegedly ineligible for the office for which he’s being paid.
“By creating the false or misleading impression to Strafford County officials that he has been residing at the Dover address, Defendant fraudulently obtained in excess of $10,000,” wrote assistant attorneys general Joe M. Fincham II and David M. Lovejoy.
Fincham and Lovejoy asked the court to schedule a hearing on their motion to revoke Brave’s bail. Court records do not indicate whether that hearing has been scheduled. The next hearing in the case had previously been scheduled for Dec. 12.
Sheriff Brave, who has pleaded not guilty, did not respond to a request for comment. He has been accused of an extensive pattern of dishonest dealings that stretch beyond the scope of the conduct for which he faces criminal charges.
An investigation by The Boston Globe revealed Brave, a Democrat who made history as the first Black sheriff in New Hampshire, had falsely claimed to hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees before his 2020 election and 2022 reelection.
An internal investigation report commissioned by Strafford County, which the Globe obtained last week through a public records request, found reasons to question Brave’s candor after his wife was arrested on a drunken driving charge in December 2022.
In April, county officials asked the attorney general’s office to look into Brave’s potentially criminal conduct. They said the sheriff’s office nearly “imploded” as Brave initially refused to take a leave of absence amid the investigation into his taxpayer-funded leisure trips and meet-ups with paramours.
Brave stepped aside in August after the three Strafford County commissioners gave him an ultimatum and threatened to have him ousted from his position.
While the détente between Brave and the commissioners may have alleviated concerns about further damage to the sheriff’s office morale and public repute, the fact that Brave has continued to draw his paycheck doesn’t sit well with some members of the Strafford County legislative delegation.
Representative Chuck Grassie, a Democrat from Rochester, said the county has to follow certain protocols since Brave is a constitutional officer.
“We just can’t up and fire him,” Grassie said. “We have to go through a process. And that’s something that I think we need to start looking at.”