Sam Brinton allegedly stole the luggage in September. The Vera Bradley baggage with women's clothing inside was valued at $2,325, according to a complaint.
Brinton is also accused of being seen with the bag at least two times after they allegedly stole it.
The charges were filed in late October and went unnoticed in the weeks since, but received wider attention this week after it was picked up by conservative media outlets.
Brinton became the deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition at the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy in January 2022. The Dispatch reports Brinton was not a political appointment made by President Joe Biden, but rather a career appointment.
According to the complaint, the baggage was reported missing on Sept. 16 by a woman who was flying into MSP from New Orleans with her son. The bag was marked as arrived at the airport but was missing from the carousel.
Police reviewed surveillance footage that showed a suspect, later identified as Brinton, grabbing the luggage in question and removing the tag off of it. They then left the area "at a quick pace." The victim confirmed to police the bag taken was hers.
Brinton was seen leaving the airport in a rideshare vehicle with the bag. It's noted in the complaint that Brinton didn't check a bag when they departed from Washington, D.C. to Minnesota.
Police reviewed additional surveillance footage that shows Brinton with the stolen luggage returning to MSP-Airport on Sept. 18 and returning from a trip to Europe on Oct. 9 at the Washington Dulles Airport in Virginia, according to the complaint.
The charges state a police officer ended up calling Brinton and asking them if they "took anything that didn't belong to them," to which Brinton replied "not that I know of." Ultimately, Brinton admitted to taking the rolling suitcase, but denied taking any of its contents.
"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," Brinton initially claimed.
However, Brinton called the officer back two hours later to confess they were not being completely honest, according to the complaint. Brinton claimed they were "tired" when they took the bag, allegedly not realizing it was theirs until they opened it up at the hotel. Brinton stated they didn't know what to do, so they allegedly left the clothes inside the drawers of the hotel room they were staying at.
It's unclear if the bag was returned to the victim as the complaint states she hadn't received the bag as of Oct. 27. The victim also learned that no clothing was found inside the hotel room Brinton claimed it was left in.
Brinton is charged with a felony count of theft and is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 19, according to court records. If convicted, Brinton faces up to five years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
The nuclear scientist graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in nuclear engineering and earned a dual M.S. degree in nuclear engineering, technology and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brinton also has a history of advocating for LGBTQ youth and helped secure protections against conversion therapy — something they experienced for two years — for more than half the country, according to the Department of Energy.
Brinton served as the Director of Global Political Strategy at Deep Isolation and Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs at the nonprofit The Trevor Project prior to taking on the deputy assistant secretary position, according to their LinkedIn.
Brinton was told by the Department of Energy that they were placed "on leave" but no reason was given as to why. Dr. Kim Petry has taken over their role for the time being, a Department of Energy spokesperson confirmed with Bring Me The News.
Bring Me The News reached out to Brinton's attorney on Tuesday for comment.