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Gender-Fluid U.S. Government Official Accused of Felony Theft

Sam Brinton Vera Bradley Suitcase

Sam Brinton, one of the government's first gender-fluid officials, has been accused of stealing a Vera Bradley suitcase and its contents from an airport baggage claim.

Sam Brinton, one of the federal government's first gender-fluid officials, has been placed on leave from their position as deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition at the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy after being accused of theft. Another official has been named as their interim replacement.

They are charged with felony theft, Insider reports. According to court documents, Brinton is accused of taking a Vera Bradley suitcase and its contents from baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport September 16. The suitcase and its contents, belonging to a Minnesota woman, have a combined value of approximately $2,325. The filings also say that surveillance video also shows them removing the identifying tags after grabbing the luggage and tucking them into a handbag they were carrying. Brinton "then left the area at a quick pace," the documents say. Brinton had not checked a bag in Washington, D.C., where the flight originated.

Investigators say Brinton was seen using the Vera Bradley suitcase on two later trips to Washington, one on September 18 and the next on October 9. The victim confirmed it was her bag after police showed her the surveillance video.

Police initially questioned Brinton via phone October 9, asking them directly if they'd taken anything not theirs. "If I had taken the wrong bag, I am happy to return it, but I don't have any clothes for another individual," Brinton is quoted as saying in the complaint. "That was my clothes when I opened the bag."

But they called the officer back two hours later to explain that they grabbed the wrong bag because they were tired and mistook it for their own. They went on to say that it wasn't until they were in the hotel room that they realized it wasn't their bag; they feared someone would accuse them of theft. Uncertain of what exactly to do, they emptied the luggage into the hotel room dressers, leaving the person's clothes behind, court filings say.

With their first court hearing scheduled in Hennepin County December 19, Brinton could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine if convicted.

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