Non-Binary Gov't Official Charged with Stealing Designer Bag

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday November 29, 2022

Sam Brinton
Sam Brinton  (Source:Sam Brinton/Twitter)

Sam Brinton, an official at the DOE and one of the first openly non-binary people to become a government official, has been charged with felony theft for taking a designer suitcase worth more than $2,300 from an airport baggage claim. Brinton says they took the bag by mistake.

The incident took place last September 16, when Brinton allegedly took a piece of Vera Bradley luggage from the baggage claim of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, the New York Post reported.

Brinton is "the deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition at the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy," the article noted, before specifying that they have been charged with felony theft.

Brinton was "captured on surveillance video grabbing the luggage and removing its ID tag identifying the owner," according to court documents, the account detailed.

Brinton initially told police that the bag they had taken contained their own clothes, reports said, but two hours later they called the police back to confess that they had not been "completely honest" about the luggage in question.

"They said they accidentally grabbed the wrong bag at the luggage carousel due to exhaustion," The Post recounted, before adding that "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."

Alpha News, which first reported on the story, said that law enforcement looked over security video after the bag's owner reported it missing.

"Airport records confirmed the navy blue Vera Bradley roller bag arrived at 4:40 p.m. but was missing from the carousel," the article relayed. Upon checking the security video, officers "observed Brinton removing a navy blue roller bag from carousel seven, according to a criminal complaint."

"Brinton arrived at MSP Airport around 4:27 p.m. on an American Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., but did not check a bag, meaning [they] had no reason to visit baggage claim, according to the complaint," the article went on to add.

Brinton was "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," according to the Post.

Brinton "was placed on leave about a month ago following the accusations," the Post noted.

"Brinton's first court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19 in Hennepin County," Alpha News reported.

Full disclosure: This correspondent is acquainted with Sam Brinton, having been in the Boston Gay Men's Chorus with them.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.