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Accused of violating bail conditions, Strafford County sheriff gets one-week extension to find an attorney

Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is followed into the Rockingham County Superior Court by lawyer Leif Becker, who he hopes to retain as counsel, on Dec. 5, 2023.
Deb Cram/Seacoast Media Group (pool photo)
Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is followed into the Rockingham County Superior Court by lawyer Leif Becker, who he hopes to retain as counsel, on Dec. 5, 2023.

A judge on Tuesday granted Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave’s request to delay a bail revocation hearing by seven days, as he looks for an attorney willing to represent him.

Brave, a Democrat who won election in 2020 as the first Black sheriff in New Hampshire history, was arrested in August on charges related to falsified expense reports. State prosecutors say he allegedly misused about $19,000 in public money on personal expenses including hotels and meals, as well as a vacation to Florida with a romantic partner who worked in his office.

Brave has denied wrongdoing. He was initially appointed a public defender after he claimed he had about $5,000 in savings, but prosecutors told the court Brave netted about $240,000 following the recent sale of his home in Dover and subsequently bought himself a 1968 Porsche.

State prosecutors are seeking to have Brave jailed for violating his bail conditions, contending he repeatedly ignored out-of-state travel restrictions. They allege, in records filed with the court, that Brave is now living in Tewksbury, Mass., in a rental unit that costs $4,100 per month.

Brave appeared Tuesday before Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Dan St. Hilaire without an attorney. He told the court he was in the process of retaining a lawyer, but the “five or six” attorneys he contacted to-date said they weren’t comfortable taking on the case or had a conflict of interest. Portsmouth attorney Leif Becker sat in the gallery during the hearing and told the court he would be available to attend a hearing next Tuesday, though he has not yet made a formal appearance with the court to represent Brave.

State prosecutors said they were willing to delay the contempt hearing for seven days.

Brave remains on paid administrative leave from his job as Strafford County Sheriff.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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