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N.H.’s First Black Sheriff Charged With Embezzling $19,000

On September 28, 2023, Sheriff Mark A. Brave of New Hampshire’s Strafford County was arraigned on charges he stole $19,000 in phony reimbursements for attending conferences he missed or which never occurred. He is also accused of perjury for lying about staying alone in hotel rooms he actually shared with a paramour who was not his wife.

As a candidate in 2020, Brave, 38, boasted of a recently completed master’s degree in forensic psychology from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). But that turned out to be one of several inaccuracies and misrepresentations in his educational and professional history. SNHU said no one matching Brave’s name and date of birth ever enrolled in or graduated from the forensic psychology program.

Although Brave admitted that he did not possess the degree, he claimed an unpaid bill was withholding his transcripts. He also mentioned not completing the coursework. However, Brave provided no supporting evidence of his academic pursuits.

Further discrepancies emerged in Brave’s employment history, including overstated length of service as a Maine Capitol Police officer and at Great Bay Community College. He also exaggerated his law enforcement experience, not achieving full-time certification until after he was hired by the Rochester Police Department in 2016—meaning he had less than five years of full-time law enforcement experience when he took office as sheriff in January 2021. Also uncorroborated was a claim that his law enforcement career began in 2009 with unpaid auxiliary police work in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Brave’s law enforcement certification was temporarily suspended due to the criminal charges against him. Despite his $76,700 annual salary, he was appointed a public defender; however, a judge later rescinded that order and set a bail revocation hearing for the misrepresentation of income. Brave then resigned on December 12, 2023, and prosecutors dropped their request to revoke his bail. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 64 years in prison and $32,000 in fines.  


Sources: Boston Globe, New Hampshire Union Leader

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