A Biden administration employee — and one of the federal government’s first gender non-binary officials — has been accused of stealing a traveler’s luggage from the Minneapolis airport in September.
Sam Brinton, the deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition at the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, was charged with felony theft after allegedly snatching a Vera Bradley suitcase reportedly worth $2,325 from baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on Sept. 16, according to court documents.
Brinton, who uses they/them pronouns, was captured on surveillance video grabbing the luggage and removing its ID tag identifying the owner, the filings state.
They were later seen using the Vera Bradley suitcase on at least two occasions, while traveling to Washington, DC, on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, investigators said.
Brinton initially denied stealing the suitcase to police officers, but later claimed they took it by mistake and still had it in their possession.
“If I had taken the wrong bag, I am happy to return it, but I don’t have any clothes for another individual,” Brinton first told the officer. “That was my clothes when I opened the bag.”
However, Brinton called the officer back two hours after their first conversation and confessed to not being “completely honest.”
They said they accidentally grabbed the wrong bag at the luggage carousel due to exhaustion.
According to the court filings, Brinton said when they opened the bag at their hotel, they realized it wasn’t theirs, but got nervous that someone would think they stole it and didn’t know what to do. They said they emptied the luggage and left the person’s clothes inside the drawers of a dresser in the hotel room.
The official was charged with felony theft of a moveable property without consent, as first reported by the local Minnesota outlet Alpha News.
Brinton — who became one of the government’s first non-binary officials — was placed on leave about a month ago following the accusations.