Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave of Dover has been charged with eight felonies as part of an ongoing investigation into his alleged misuse of Strafford County credit cards.
Brave turned himself in to State Police in Epping to be fingerprinted and photographed before Attorney General John Formella announced the charges against him at a 3:30 p.m. news conference Thursday.
Brave is charged with theft, falsifying evidence and perjury.
Brave, whose position is elected, has previously called the allegations politically motivated. He said on Facebook he will continue to do his job. And has said he has done nothing wrong.
“I will keep you all updated, thank you to all who continue to stand with me, my family, and my office during this trying time. I will continue to serve the people of Strafford County to the best of my ability and will sit before a jury of my peers,” Brave said.
Brave is charged with one count of theft by deception, a class A felony, for stealing approximately $19,000 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, according to a news release issued by Formella.
The affidavit alleges that Brave spent approximately $19,000 on personal expenses – including airfare, hotel stays, and dinners for personal trips to Boston, Florida, and other locations.
Brave was released on personal recognizance bail.
Brave is accused of deceiving Strafford County officials and attempting to hide the personal nature of purchases by falsifying one receipt to remove the identity of a female companion, and by submitting numerous false justifications for reimbursement. The false justifications included attending conferences and meetings that he did not attend, that did not exist, or for organizations that did not exist, Formella said.
Brave is also alleged to have lied during his testimony before the Strafford County Grand Jury.
The first perjury charge involves a female employee who traveled with Brave to Florida. At first the unidentified woman told investigators that she had stayed with family but later admitted to the grand jury that she did stay in the same hotel room as Brave, the release stated.
“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 release said.
The second perjury charge concerns allegations that Brave stated that he attended events for a fictitious law enforcement organization.
The third perjury charge relates to a trip 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 release said.
The fourth and fifth perjury charges concern a dinner cruise and hotel stay for Brave in Boston. He told the grand jury that he purchased the tickets in advance for him and a male deputy to attend a charity fundraiser, the release stated.
“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,” the release said.
“Sheriff Brave is further alleged to have alternatively claimed in his testimony 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,” the release said.
Brave is facing up to 31½-to-64 years in prison and fines of up to $32,000 if convicted on all counts.
Formella asked that anyone from the public who has information relevant to the investigation to contact Investigator Allison Vachon at: (603) 271-0102 / Allison.P.Vachon@doj.nh.gov.
Brave is the first Black elected Sheriff in New Hampshire and took office in January 2021. He was re-elected last year.
In a previous letter from the attorney general informing him of the investigation, Brave was told to alert prosecutors in his jurisdiction consistent with being on the Laurie List, also known as the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, of officers with known discipline for matters involving dishonesty in their personnel file.
County officials had asked Brave to take a leave of absence until the investigation was complete but he declined.