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Former sheriff fails to reach plea deal, case heads to mediation

Former sheriff fails to reach plea deal, case heads to mediation

Former Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave failed to reach a plea deal with prosecutors on eight felony charges, including one for theft of $19,000 in taxpayer money.

A formal plea offer was presented to Brave, prosecutor Joe Fincham told Judge James Kennedy during a brief hearing Tuesday afternoon at Rockingham County Superior Court.

“We received a counteroffer from the defense, which we have rejected,” Fincham said.

Brave’s attorney Leif Becker asked Kennedy for criminal mediation before setting a trial schedule. Fincham didn’t oppose the request.

The two sides will return to court for a status conference at a later date. Brave also waived his right to a speedy trial Tuesday.

The mediation session is less formal than a settlement conference and usually conducted by a retired justice, according to Fincham.

“Criminal mediation is just both sides are in a room with a judge,” he said after the hearing.

Becker said the offers were “pretty far apart,” while Brave declined comment after they both left the courthouse.

Brave, 38, put himself on paid leave in August 2023 after being charged with stealing $19,000 in taxpayer funds while serving as the county’s elected sheriff. County commissioners had threatened to remove him.

Prosecutors say Brave bought a 1968 Porsche convertible after the sale of his home but claimed he could not afford a lawyer. He also lied about living in Dover, according to court documents.

Brave, who earned a gross salary of more than $76,000 a year, resigned in December. County Administrator Raymond Bower said Brave’s pay ended immediately.

Authorities say the $19,000 in taxpayer money was spent on “personal expenses” for travel and hotel stays. Other charges include five counts of perjury for allegedly lying about the money he spent to rendezvous with a woman.

The wide-ranging allegations against him include trips to Boston, Florida and Maryland.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, Brave submitted reimbursement requests with false justifications, which included attending conferences he did not go to, that did not take place or were put on by organizations that did not exist.

Investigations into Brave lasted more than a year.

Brave had been ordered to stay in New Hampshire except to drive his daughter to and from school functions at a private school in Massachusetts but was found to be living in Tewksbury, Mass.

Read the complete article here.

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