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Strafford County sheriff charged with theft, perjury and falsifying evidence

FILE - Mark Brave smiles as he poses outside the Strafford County Courthouse, Oct. 6, 2020, in Dover, N.H. Brave, the Strafford County, N.H., sheriff, has been arrested and charged with eight felonies as part an investigation into his misuse of county credit cards, the state attorney general announced Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
Charles Krupa/AP
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AP
FILE - Mark Brave smiles as he poses outside the Strafford County Courthouse, Oct. 6, 2020, in Dover, N.H. Brave, the Strafford County, N.H., sheriff, has been arrested and charged with eight felonies as part an investigation into his misuse of county credit cards, the state attorney general announced Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

A New Hampshire sheriff has been arrested and charged with eight felonies as part an investigation into his misuse of county credit cards, the state attorney general announced Thursday.

Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave, who campaigned in 2020 to be the state's only Black sheriff, is charged with one count of theft by deception for stealing about $19,000 in county funds by submitting reimbursement for personal expenses with false justifications; two counts of falsifying physical evidence; and five counts of perjury for lying in his testimony before the Strafford County Grand Jury, Attorney General John Formella said.

"The decision to charge an elected constitutional officer is not one that is made lightly and it's not a place that we ever want to be. However no person is above the law and the evidence in this case required the actions that we are taking today," the attorney general said.

County sheriffs in New Hampshire are elected by voters. But they can be removed "for official misconduct" by the county commission. George Maglaras, chairman of the Strafford County Commission, said initiating removal procedures for Brave was "certainly on the table," but he and other commissioners had not yet reviewed the bail conditions Brave had been subject to.

Brave insisted that he has done nothing wrong and will fight the charges of theft by deception, two counts of falsifying physical evidence and five counts of perjury.

"I'm not stepping down because I believe this is unfair. This is just an attack on me politically," Brave told The Associated Press. "The commissioners wanted me to step down from the get-go. I know I am not guilty of anything, and I refuse to give the commissioners what they wanted from the get-go."

Formella said Brave submitted numerous false justifications for reimbursements "such as attending conferences and meetings that he did not attend, that did not exist and for organizations that did not exist," he said.

One perjury charge involved a female employee who traveled to Florida with Brave and said she stayed with family but later admitted to the grand jury that she stayed in Brave's hotel room with him, which Brave denied to the grand jury. Brave is also accused of lying about trips to Maryland, saying he was scheduled to meet with Congressman Chris Pappas, but that Pappas canceled and gave him a flag that flew over the U.S. capitol.

"Records from congressman's office indicate that no such meeting was ever scheduled and no such gift was ever given," Formella said. "Rather based on investigation on this trip Sheriff Brave is alleged to have actually met a paramour who lived in the area."

Brave also is accused of lying to the grand jury about a dinner cruise and hotel stay in Boston, saying he bought the tickets in advance for him and a male deputy to attend a charity fundraiser when the investigation showed that Brave allegedly bought the tickets on the same day as the cruise for himself and another paramour, Formella said.

Brave posted on Facebook earlier in the day that he had turned himself in for photos and fingerprinting. He was released on a personal recognizance bond. Brave is expected to be arraigned in several days.

"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," he wrote.

NHPR's Josh Rogers contributed reporting to this story.

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