Washington, DC – A nuclear waste official working for President Joe Biden’s administration was recently fired after being accused of stealing luggage worth thousands of dollars at two separate airports over the past six months.
Government officials confirmed on Monday evening that U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition Sam Brinton, one of the first non-binary officials to work for the federal government, no longer has a job there.
“Sam Brinton is no longer a DOE employee,” a DOE spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “By law, the Department of Energy cannot comment further on personnel matters.”
Brinton, 34, was already facing a felony theft of movable property without consent charge for allegedly stealing a woman’s $2,325 suitcase from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport baggage claim when investigators in Las Vegas tied him to a prior luggage theft that occurred in their jurisdiction, FOX News reported.
A warrant for Brinton’s arrest for felony grand larceny of items worth more than $3,500 was issued out of Nevada on Dec. 8.
Investigators said they identified Brinton as the suspect in the Nevada case after recognizing him from news reports about the nearly-identical case in Minnesota, FOX News reported.
The series of events leading to the charges began on Sept. 16, when police were notified about a missing Vera Bradley suitcase at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport baggage claim, the New York Post reported.
Investigators were able to pull surveillance footage of the baggage claim area, according to court documents.
That footage allegedly showed Brinton snatching the high-dollar luggage off of the carousel and pulling off an affixed tag identifying the true owner of the bag, the New York Post reported.
Court documents alleged Brinton “removed the blue bag’s tag and put the bag tag in the handbag they were carrying,” then “left the area at a quick pace,” the Exchange Monitor reported.
According to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Police Department, Brinton had not even checked a bag on the American Airlines flight he took that day.
Investigators said they found other surveillance footage showing Brinton using the stolen suitcase while traveling to Washington, DC on both Sept. 18 and on Oct. 9.
When police contacted Brinton about the incident on Oct. 9, the Biden administration official allegedly claimed the bag he had picked up contained his clothing, FOX News reported.
“If I had taken the wrong bag, I am happy to return it, but I don’t have any clothes for another individual,” Brinton claimed, according to police. “That was my clothes when I opened the bag.”
But the nuclear waste assistant secretary called the officer back about two hours later with a different story, according to court documents.
This time, Brinton allegedly told the officer that he hadn’t been “completely honest” and claimed he had accidentally taken the wrong bag because he was so exhausted after his flight, FOX News reported.
“DEFENDANT said when they opened the bag at the hotel, they realized it was not theirs,” court documents read. “DEFENDANT got nervous people would think they stole the bag and did not know what to do. DEFENDANT stated they left the clothes from the bag inside the drawers in the hotel room.”
The criminal complaint was filed in Minnesota’s 4th Judicial District Court on Oct. 27, according to the Exchange Monitor.
Brinton has since been charged with felony theft of a moveable property without consent, the New York Post reported.
He faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
As media reports of Brinton’s Minnesota charge spread, investigators in Las Vegas recalled a very similar incident that occurred at the Harry Reid International Airport on July 6, FOX News reported.
According to a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) report, a woman traveling from Washington, DC to Las Vegas that day reported that one of her checked bags was missing from the baggage claim area.
The suitcase – which had a total value of about $3,670 – contained approximately $1700 worth of jewelry, $850 worth of clothing, and around $500 in makeup, FOX News reported.
Police said the security footage from the baggage claim area showed “a white male adult wearing a white T-shirt with a large rainbow colored atomic nuclear symbol design” snatching up a bag off of the carousel that matched the description of the missing luggage, according to the news outlet.
A LVMPD detective noted that the suspect “demonstrated several signs of abnormal behavior while taking the victim’s luggage which are cues suspects typically give off when committing luggage theft,” FOX News reported.
The video showed the suspect checking the tag on the luggage before placing it back onto the carousel, according to police.
The suspect then started “looking in all directions for anyone who might be watching, or might approach,” before ultimately “pulling it back off the carousel and demonstrating the same behavior by looking around before walking away with it quickly,” the LVMPD report read.
The Las Vegas case was closed after police were unable to identify the suspect, but that all changed after Brinton was charged in Minnesota, FOX News reported.
Police in Las Vegas said they “immediately recognized” Brinton as the suspect seen in the security footage.
Investigators confirmed he was on the same flight as the victim, that he had only checked one bag, FOX News reported.
At the time of the theft, Brinton had already claimed his bag from the carousel and therefore “had no reason to be examining and taking any other pieces of luggage,” the LVMPD said.
Investigators said they were also able to locate an Instagram post that showed Brinton wearing the same “white T-shirt with a large rainbow colored atomic nuclear symbol design” as the suspect seen in the security footage.
Brinton faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if he is convicted of the felony charge pending against him in Nevada, FOX News reported.
Brinton was placed on leave by the DOE shortly after he was arrested on the Minnesota charges in October.
He had just stepped into the high-ranking DOE role in June.
“There’s been a lot of people who are quite upset that don’t think that I am quite as qualified as others,” Brinton said during an interview in October, according to FOX News. “I respond with multiple graduate degrees from MIT, a decade of working in nuclear policy and the strongest enthusiasm for working in nuclear waste out of anybody.”
Brinton, who has openly shared his enjoyment of “pup play,” is also a member of a group of drag queens who dress up as nuns to raise awareness about sexual intolerance and transphobia, the Daily Mail reported.
When working with the nonprofit group, known as the Order of Perpetual Indulgence, Brinton uses the alias of Sister Ray Dee O’Active, according to the news outlet.