A Biden administration official has been charged with felony theft and is facing prison time.
Sam Brinton was accused of stealing a mother's Vera Bradley suitcase from an airport in Minnesota.
Brinton works at the US Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy.
A Biden administration official has been charged with felony theft and is on leave from their post after being accused of stealing a mother's Vera Bradley suitcase from an airport in Minnesota, according to court documents and the federal government.
Sam Brinton, the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition at the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy, was accused of taking the luggage from baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on September 16, according to a complaint filed last month.
The 26-inch navy blue hard-sided roller bag and its contents were estimated to be worth $2,325, according to the court documents obtained by Insider.
Surveillance footage captured Brinton, 35, taking the Vera Bradley luggage from the carousel at around 4:45 p.m. after Brinton arrived at the airport on an American Airlines flight from Washington, DC, the court documents allege.
The complaint states that Brinton took off the bag's tag and left the area "at a quick pace" before hopping into a cab; records from American Airlines show Brinton never checked a bag before they left Washington DC, according to the court papers.
Brinton was then caught on surveillance footage checking into a luxury riverfront hotel in St. Paul with the bag, the complaint says.
Two days later, on September 18, Brinton was seen checking the bag before boarding a flight back to Washington DC, the documents state. Brinton was again seen on surveillance video carrying the bag at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia after returning from a Europe trip on October 9, investigators said.
When a Minnesota police officer called Brinton that day, Brinton denied taking someone else's bag.
"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 told the officer, the complaint states.
The complaint alleges that Brinton then called the officer back two hours later and apologized for not being "completely honest."
Brinton told the officer that they were tired and picked up the wrong bag and only realized when they got to the hotel and opened the suitcase.
The complaint says Brinton "got nervous people would think they stole the bag and did not know what to do."
Brinton told police they left the clothes from the bag inside the drawers in the hotel room and admitted to taking the bag back to the airport on September 18.
When Brinton was questioned why they would use the bag, Brinton said they thought it would be "weirder" to leave the luggage in the hotel room rather than the clothes, the court papers say.
Police did not recover any clothes from the hotel room where Brinton stayed and as of October 27 - when the complaint was filed - the owner of the Vera Bradley bag has not gotten it back, according to the court documents.
The Department of Energy told Insider on Tuesday that Brinton is "on leave" from the agency and that Dr. Kim Petry is now "performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition."
An attorney for Brinton did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Insider.
Brinton, who is one of the federal government's first openly "gender fluid" employees, faces up to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine or both. They are scheduled to make their first court appearance in Minnesota's 4th Judicial District Court on December 19.
Since the news of Brinton's arrest, Republicans like former President Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., have used the criminal case to bash Brinton over their gender identity.
"Who could have seen this coming from they/them?" Trump Jr. said in a tweet.
GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted, "This man, hired by Joe Biden, is a thief" along with a photo of Brinton in a dress.