Sam Brinton
© dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo
Sam Brinton, pictured, allegedly took a Vera Bradley suitcase worth $2,325 from the luggage carousel at the airport in Minneapolis St. Paul
A non-binary senior US nuclear official has been charged with stealing a suitcase at an airport.

Sam Brinton, 35, became the most prominent gender-fluid person in the US government in June, overseeing the disposal of nuclear waste.

The appointment of the MIT graduate, who uses the pronouns "they" and "them", was hailed at the time by diversity campaigners.


Comment: Surely criminality is a form of diversity?


Brinton's official title in the Office of Nuclear Energy is deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition.

Previously, Brinton had performed as a drag queen called Sister Ray Dee O'Active, and also taught classes called "Kink 101" in which kneeling men wore leather dog masks.


Comment: Here's a readily available photo of Mr Brinton prior to being hired by the US government:
Sam Brinton  drag queen nuclear energy government

New deputy assistant secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy Sam Brinton (standing, in dress).

On Monday night, it emerged that they had been charged with the theft of a Vera Bradley suitcase which, including its contents, was worth $2,325.

'Theft of movable property'

The charge of "theft of movable property" carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in jail and a potential fine of up to $10,000.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Minnesota the alleged theft took place at Minneapolis St Paul Airport on September 16.


Comment: And we're just hearing about it now?


The nuclear official was charged under their full name, Samuel Otis Brinton, and their gender was listed as "unknown".

The complaint said police were alerted by a woman that her suitcase was missing in the baggage claim area.

After looking at CCTV "officers observed the suspect, who was later identified as Samuel Otis Brinton, remove a navy blue hard-sided roller bag from the rear of Carousel 7," the complaint said.

It said Brinton then "removed the blue bag's tag, and put the bag tag in the handbag they were carrying. Defendant then left the area at a quick pace."

Brinton had not checked in a bag on their flight from Washington to Minneapolis. They took the blue bag to the InterContinental hotel. Then, two days later, they checked the same bag on a flight back to Washington.

A few weeks later, Brinton took the bag with them on a trip to Europe, the complaint said. When they returned, police called Brinton and asked if they had taken anything that didn't belong to them. They replied: "Not that I know of."


Comment: Such brazen behaviour is rather revealing - although, as we can in the previous comments, it might also not be so surprising.


'I don't have any clothes for another individual'

According to the complaint, Brinton later admitted to taking the bag, but denied that it contained the clothes of another person.

They told an officer: "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."

Two hours later Brinton called back and apologised for not being "completely honest," the complaint said.

They admitted to taking the bag, but said they were tired and took the suitcase thinking it was theirs.

Brinton said when they opened the bag at the hotel, they realised it was someone else's and "got nervous people would think they stole the bag, and did not know what to do".

They then left the clothes from the bag in drawers in the hotel room. Asked why they had not just left the bag in the hotel room, Brinton said it was "weirder" to leave a bag than the clothes, the complaint said.

In a statement the US Department of Energy [DOE] said: "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."

'There's been a lot of people who are quite upset'

When Brinton took up the post in June they tweeted a picture from their office wearing Stars and Stripes stilettos.

They wrote: "As one of if not the very first openly gender-fluid individuals in federal government leadership, I was welcomed with open arms into the Department of Energy."

Last month, they said: "There's been a lot of people who are quite upset that don't think that I am quite as qualified as others.

"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 is a career government employee and not a political appointee of Joe Biden.

They have not yet publicly commented.