DOVER - Strafford County Commissioners released a statement on Friday accusing Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave of conflating two separate investigations into his alleged malfeasance while cherrypicking various aspects of an earlier investigation to his advantage.
In a statement sent to The Rochester Voice signed by Commissioner Chair George Maglaras, the letter states that, "While answering questions about this criminal matter, Sheriff Brave has made multiple public statements about a wholly separate matter involving an internal disciplinary review of a separate incident. This is the subject of an independent report prepared by Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI) as referenced by Sheriff Brave."
The letter accuses Brave of disclosing parts of the MRI report while answering questions about the separate AG's probe into charges including theft, falsification in official matters and abuse of office.
"It is unfortunate that Sheriff Brave has chosen to release only portions of the MRI report to the public, portions that when taken out of context are helpful to himself, but misleading to the public," the letter states.
The letter sent to The Voice is the first publicly released comments the commissioners have made since the AG probe opened late last month.
Brave, meanwhile, has told The Voice that the AG's probe is a direct result of what he called the concocted probe done by MRI.
The letter from the commissioners made no comment on Brave's allegation that Maglaras told him "You're the token black guy and you're token's gonna be up soon."
Brave said the confrontational nature of his relationship with the commissioners spiked after his wife was arrested in Portsmouth during a DWI saturation patrol last December.
"After her arrest the commissioners took it upon themselves to hire MRI to do a private probe," Brave said. "They tried to say I used my office to get her off and I was driving and switched (seats) with her, There were rumors I was PC'd, that I was arrested."
Brave said none of it was true.
"I was in the passenger seat, I never said a word (during her arrest)," he said. "I never used my office to mitigate any of her charges, not at all."
Brave said that Maglaras and the other commissioners, Bob Watson and Deanna Rollo, used social media rumors and innuendo as the basis for beginning an internal probe.
Brave said the commissioners have been "messing" with his department more and more since the arrest, actively interfering in both his day-to-day operations and his department's budget.
He said commissioners later hired Municipal Resources Inc. to investigate his office.
"They've been throwing mud at the wall, hoping something will stick," Brave said earlier this month.
He said Maglaras recused himself from the vote on hiring MRI, because he was a fact witness in the investigation.
Brave said that the morning after his wife was arrested he called Maglaras and told him what happened, including that he was in the car at the time of the arrest.
But Brave added that Maglaras later said that Brave told him he was at home with his kids when she was pulled over, "which is a lie," Brave said.
Brave also said that commissioners allowed County Administrator Ray Bower to lead the internal investigation, which should have been done by someone outside of county government.