Strafford Dem Brave Considers New Plea Deal

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

Brave, who was forced to resign last year after he was caught lying in court, rejected the initial plea deal presented by prosecutors in March. His counterproposal was later rejected by the state. But instead of going to trial, Brave and lawyers from 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 Wednesday. Fauver’s order is currently sealed. Michael Garrity, a spokesperson for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, told NHJournal that time is of the essence.

“The parties had until May 24 to resolve the matter through a plea or the case would return to the trial track,” Garrity said.

Criminal mediation, also known as a crime resolution conference, typically involves a judge not connected to the case working with both parties to reach a consensus. Under New Hampshire Judiciary policy, cases eligible for felony settlement conferences involve defendants who admit to wrongdoing. The conferences include input from the alleged victims of the crime while the judge guides all parties toward a settlement.

Brave’s saga began last year when county officials became suspicious of his spending habits with the county credit card. According to the investigative report, Brave used his county card to purchase plane tickets, hotel rooms and meals for his extramarital affairs. While under investigation, Brave refused to resign and lashed out in the press, claiming he had been the victim of political intimidation and accusing County Commissioner George Maglaras of racism .

When he was indicted last summer on charges of theft and perjury, Brave initially refused to take paid administrative leave, but ultimately bowed out under pressure from county commissioners.

Brave was soon in trouble again, this time for violating his bail conditions, lying about where he lived and hiding money so he could get a free defense attorney, according to the court records.

Brave was not supposed to remain living in New Hampshire under the court’s bail order, which he ignored when he paid a year’s rent for an apartment in the Massachusetts and bought himself a sports car. At the same time, Brave claimed he didn’t have enough money to pay a lawyer.

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

It remains to be seen whether the negotiated deal also allows him to avoid prison.

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