Celebrated first ‘non-binary genderfluid’ government official, Sam Brinton, charged with felony theft of luggage

In June, Sam Brinton was celebrated by the Biden administration as the first openly non-binary genderfluid federal official when he was named by the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy as the deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition.

Just months later, however, Brinton is now facing felony theft charges after he allegedly stole luggage belonging to another woman at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in Minnesota in September, the New York Post reported.

The high-level official was reportedly placed on leave last month and, if convicted, could face up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Theft of luggage at airport

Local Minnesota media outlet Alpha News first reported the charge against Brinton in relation to the Sept. 16 incident at the MSP airport in which a female traveler reported that her luggage — a designer Vera Bradley suitcase plus its contents collectively valued at more than $2,300 — was missing.

Law enforcement reviewed surveillance camera footage of the baggage claim area and spotted Brinton — who had arrived earlier without any checked luggage — taking the suitcase off the carousel, removing the bag’s ID tag, and then leaving the area at a “quick pace.”

Further review of the footage showed Brinton returning to the airport on Sept. 18 with the stolen bag for a return flight to Washington D.C., and a review of camera footage at D.C.’s Dulles airport further showed that Brinton took that same suitcase on a trip to Europe in October.

Initial denial turns into excuses and admission

When questioned by the police about the suitcase in October, Brinton initially denied taking anything, then admitted the bag wasn’t his but the clothes inside it were, then finally acknowledged that none of it belonged to him and claimed that he had accidentally grabbed the wrong baggage because he was tired.

He further alleged that he left the other woman’s clothes in a hotel room and the police instructed him on how to return the bag to its rightful owner, but according to court documents, the police later revealed that no clothes were ever recovered from the hotel and the bag had yet to be returned.

The Daily Mail reported that Brinton had been in Minneapolis at the time of the alleged theft to attend a special LGBTQ-themed conference for engineering students and that the official, who was photographed wearing a dress at the event, rented a room at the same hotel where the conference was held, the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel.

Leave confirmed by DOE

According to Fox News, Brinton was quietly placed on leave in October and an interim replacement was named in early November without announcement, with the move only being caught by a website that monitors federal hirings.

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy confirmed in a statement to Fox News, “Sam Brinton is on leave from DOE, and Dr. Kim Petry is performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition.”

Alpha News reported separately that Brinton is scheduled to appear for a hearing in Hennepin County court on Dec. 19, but that his attorney has requested a remote hearing due to the financial and logistical challenges of traveling from D.C. to Minneapolis — even though he made that same trip in September, is currently on leave from his job duties, and earns a reported annual salary of $178,000.