Sam Brinton, the first openly non-binary official in the federal government, faces up to five years in prison for felony theft of women’s clothing.
Brinton was caught on camera stealing a female traveler’s Vera Bradley suitcase from the baggage claim area of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport after a flight from Washington D.C. on Sept. 16.
A Delta passenger reported that her bag was missing after arriving on a flight from New Orleans at 4:40 p.m., and when airport security reviewed the cameras pointed at the luggage carousel, Brinton, who’s American Airlines’ flight had landed 13 minutes earlier, was seen snatching the bag.
The Department of Energy’s deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition, who goes by they/them pronouns, yanked the tags luggage identification tags off and shoved the designer suitcase into a handbag they were carrying, according to Fox News Digital.
Law enforcement authorities contacted Brinton on Oct. 9 to ask if they “took anything that did not belong” them, but the federal official denied any knowledge of the theft at the time.
“If I had taken the wrong bag, I am happy to return it, but I don’t have any clothes for another individual. That was my clothes when I opened the bag,” they told the police.
The DOE employee was caught on camera using the suitcase on two other trips into D.C. on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9.
Brinton clearly realized the cops were onto them, because they called the investigator back two hours later and confessed to being less-than “completely honest” during the initial conversation.
The MIT graduate, who performs as a drag queen with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, told the officer that they mistakenly took the bag at the airport due to fatigue, despite not checking any bags and flying in carry-on only.
According to court filings, Brinton realized the bag did not belong to them when they opened it in their hotel room, and “got nervous” that people would believe they intentionally stole the bag.
The luxury bag and it’s contents were reportedly worth $2,325, but Briton, who regularly wears women’s clothing, ditched the designer duds in a dresser at their hotel room.
The federal employee was charged with felony theft of movable property on Oct. 26, and was placed on leave by the DOE around a month ago.
Brinton was hired at the Office of Nuclear Energy earlier this year, and said that they were “nervous,” but “excited” to take on the challenge of being “the first gender-fluid person in federal government leadership,” at the time.
They previously held a four-year long position at the Trevor Project’s Department of Advocacy and Government affairs, and has been an activist for LGBTQ+ youth causes after being forced into religious conversion therapy as a child.
“My husband sometimes describes me as a weird kind of Batman,” Brinton said in a 2021 interview with his alma mater.
“Why, you might ask? Because by day I work to save Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth from suicide, and by night I work to save the world from nuclear waste—related environmental disaster.”
The self-appointed superhero better have Bruce Wayne kind of money, or an excellent lawyer, as the charge they face carries a maximum five-year prison term and/or up to a $10,000 fine.