DOVER, N.H. — Months before the New Hampshire attorney general’s office launched its criminal investigation into Strafford County Sheriff Mark A. Brave’s sloppy spending habits, a formal review stemming from an unrelated incident found reason to question Brave’s honesty.
Brave notified fellow county officials and senior sheriff’s office personnel on Dec. 10, 2022, that his wife, Jaime Brave, had been arrested early that morning in Newington, N.H., on a drunken driving charge. But an internal investigation documented his lack of candor about the fact that he was in the car with her at the time, and also intoxicated.
Rumors swirled in the days after the incident, so county officials hired Municipal Resources Inc. to review Sheriff Brave’s conduct and truthfulness. Brave has publicly claimed the MRI report shows county officials have been trying to undermine him, but he opposed releasing the report.
The Boston Globe obtained a copy of the MRI report Thursday afternoon through a public records request filed in August. The report shows numerous people believe Brave offered incomplete and misleading accounts related to his wife’s arrest.
Brave has denied that he intended to deceive anyone.
While the report appears to be entirely unrelated to the conduct for which Brave now faces felony charges of theft and perjury, it reveals new details about long-fraying trust in the sheriff and his willingness to tell the truth.
Strafford County Administrator Raymond F. Bower said he concluded, based on the MRI report, that Brave had lied about the incident, so he worked with the county attorney to initiate a process to add Brave’s name to the state’s list of officers with known credibility issues.
Bower told the Globe the MRI report “pales in comparison” to the subsequent criminal allegations raised against Brave. Even so, the report illustrates concerns about the sheriff’s reliability and trustworthiness, he said.
George M. Maglaras, who chairs Strafford County’s three-member board of commissioners, told the MRI investigator that Brave called him on Dec. 10, 2022, and said his wife had been arrested on the drunken driving charge while “he was home watching the kids.”
Two senior leaders in the sheriff’s office, Chief Deputy Joseph T. McGivern and Major Steven Bourque, told the MRI investigator that Brave had brief conversations with each of them about the arrest. Neither asked whether Brave had been present, but both came away with the impression that he had been at home in Dover.
The report notes that Bourque recalled Brave saying, “She should have called an Uber.”
In the days that followed, Bourque alerted Brave to rumors about him being present at the time of his wife’s arrest, and suggested the sheriff set the record straight, according to the report. When it became clear the rumors were essentially true, Bourque told Brave he “could not continue to lie” to him and McGivern, the report states.
Bourque said Brave apologized for giving a wrong impression and confirmed that he had been present for his wife’s arrest, according to the report.
Brave told the MRI investigator he had promptly and clearly told Maglaras he was present in the passenger seat when his wife was pulled over. Brave suggested he may have mentioned to Magalaras that his kids were at home, but he denied ever telling him that he had been at home with them, according to the report.
The investigator, Mark Myrdek, wasn’t convinced. Myrdek noted his opinion that Brave had falsely told Magalaras he was home when the arrest occurred.
The investigator said it seemed Brave purposely omitted information when he notified McGivern and Bourque, but Brave “vehemently denied that he did it on purpose,” and said it was an unintentional misunderstanding, according to the report.
The MRI investigator found no evidence that Brave interfered with his wife’s arrest.
In the hours before the arrest, the Braves had attended a Christmas party hosted by Tim Jones, the CEO of Frisbie Memorial Hospital, according to the report. Jaime Brave, who was chief nursing officer for the hospital, resigned in the weeks after her arrest. She did not immediately respond Thursday to an interview request.
A spokesperson for the hospital did not immediately answer questions Thursday about the party Jones hosted.
Sheriff Brave told county officials his wife’s blood alcohol content was barely above the legal limit to drive, according to the report. Sheriff Brave’s own BAC tested at 0.15 percent, or nearly twice the legal limit to drive, the MRI investigator concluded based on body-worn camera footage from police.
Since the sheriff couldn’t drive, New Hampshire State Police took him into protective custody and transported him to the home of David W. Latchaw, who was a per diem Strafford County sheriff’s deputy at the time, according to the report.
Latchaw, who served as Brave’s campaign manager in 2020 and 2022 and who works as a school principal, said his role that night was straightforward. He drove the sheriff to pick up his wife at the Newington Police Department then returned them to their home in Dover.
Latchaw added on Thursday that he was “shocked” and “profoundly disappointed” by the allegations against Sheriff Brave that came to light over the summer. He said he has since cut off ties entirely.
“If these allegations are found to be true, he lied to a myriad, a plethora of people. … I’ve made a decision to completely insulate myself from him,” Latchaw said.
The attorney general’s public integrity unit alleged in August that Sheriff Brave misused $19,000 in public funds to pay for his own leisure, travels, and meetups with romantic partners; submitted fraudulent receipts to falsely claim his travels were for legitimate law enforcement purposes; and lied to a grand jury.
An investigation by the Globe revealed in September that Brave misrepresented his educational background. For years, he falsely claimed to hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forensic psychology. He also exaggerated the length of his employment in law enforcement. He insisted that he hadn’t intended to deceive voters.
In late October, a judge appointed a public defender to represent Brave in his pending criminal case. The same judge changed course on Nov. 14 after questions arose about the accuracy of how Brave had described his financial situation.
Brave, who maintains his innocence, did not respond to a request for comment. He has said he and his wife are getting a divorce.
Brave, a Democrat, made history as New Hampshire’s first Black sheriff. He claims to be the victim of a racist and politically motivated effort to oust him. But fellow elected Democrats in Strafford County refute that claim.
Maglaras, who supported Brave’s candidacy, said the allegations and investigations have nothing to do with the color of the sheriff’s skin and everything to do with his character.
“He fooled a lot of people, including myself,” he said.
Maglaras said he read the MRI report for the first time on Thursday after receiving a copy from the Globe.
“It shows that I was being truthful,” he said, “and it shows that the sheriff was being deceptive.”