The attorney who stepped in two weeks ago to defend Mark A. Brave no longer represents the embattled sheriff of Strafford County, who faces felony charges of theft and perjury.
The same judge who approved Brave’s request late last month for court-appointed counsel changed course Tuesday after questions arose about the accuracy of how Brave had described his financial situation.
Brave, 38, is accused of spending $19,000 in taxpayer money to fund his own travels, leisure, and romantic meetups then lying about it. He placed himself on paid administrative leave in August at the urging of fellow county officials.
Even though he’s still getting his county paycheck, Brave’s financial affidavit to the court showed his take-home pay from the $76,700-per-year job barely covers his housing and utility costs, let alone his budget for groceries, cellphones, a car, and more. He told the court he had $5,000 in available funds. So the judge, Daniel I. St. Hilaire, granted his request for an attorney at public expense.
But then prosecutors asked last week for an emergency hearing, saying investigators had discovered possible problems with Brave’s paperwork and statements under oath.
“Specifically, these omissions and/or misrepresentations include, but are not limited to, the Defendant’s primary residential address, the proceeds from the sale of his Dover residence, his assets, and his monthly expenses,” assistant attorneys general Joe M. Fincham II and David M. Lovejoy wrote in their request.
These factors relate to Brave’s eligibility for court-appointed counsel, his resident status, and his compliance with bail conditions, they wrote.
Michael S. Garrity, a spokesperson for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, said the judge found reason Tuesday to question the accuracy of Brave’s financial affidavit, specifically with regard to the proceeds he received from the sale of his home, so Brave was deemed ineligible for court-appointed counsel at this time.
Brave isn’t allowed to leave New Hampshire, but he secured permission to cross state lines for the limited purpose of transporting his daughter to school-related functions. He told the court last month he has a residence with his soon-to-be ex-wife at an apartment in Dover but that he also has “a place” in Tewksbury, Mass., near his daughter’s private school in Lawrence.
Records show Brave and his estranged wife sold their Dover home for more than $1.1 million in September. They had bought it in 2016 for less than half that amount.
Brave’s financial affidavit said he had just $3,500 left in proceeds from the home sale after using funds to cover back taxes, debt, and tuition for two of his three children.
The public defender who was appointed to Brave’s case, Brett Newkirk, said his client appeared in court for the emergency hearing. Newkirk declined to comment further because his office is no longer appointed in this matter.
Brave did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment. It’s unclear who he’ll hire to represent him moving forward.
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