Sam Brinton, a former official in the Biden administration, concluded the year 2023 without facing incarceration despite being embroiled in multiple allegations of airport baggage theft across various states. Brinton, who gained attention in mid-2022 for their role in leading nuclear waste policy at the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy as a nonbinary gender-fluid individual, has been at the center of a series of legal challenges.
Despite the gravity of the accusations, Brinton managed to avoid jail time in two criminal cases, while a third case and a related lawsuit are still ongoing. The Department of Energy announced Brinton’s departure in December 2022 but did not provide details regarding the reasons for their exit.
The controversy surrounding Brinton began in October 2022 when they were charged with stealing a traveler’s luggage valued at $2,325 from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. This incident was followed by another charge in December 2022 by Las Vegas prosecutors, who accused Brinton of grand larceny involving a suitcase worth approximately $3,670, containing valuable items including jewelry and clothing.
Further complicating matters, in February 2023, a female Tanzanian fashion designer based in Houston claimed that clothing Brinton had been photographed wearing matched items from her luggage reported missing in Washington, D.C., in 2018. This allegation led to Brinton’s arrest by Maryland and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police officers in May. Subsequent investigations confirmed the presence of the designer’s missing clothes at Brinton’s residence.
Despite these multiple legal entanglements, Brinton has managed to avoid jail time. In April, they agreed to enter an adult diversion program in Minnesota, which included a mental health evaluation, writing an apology letter, returning any stolen property, and completing community service. In the Las Vegas case, Brinton was ordered to pay restitution and fines and received a 180-day suspended jail sentence, contingent on staying out of trouble.
As 2023 came to a close, the situation surrounding Brinton’s legal challenges and their implications for public trust in government appointments remained a topic of discussion and scrutiny.