A Biden administration official has been charged with a felony on allegations of stealing a woman's suitcase from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Sam Brinton, a deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition at the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy, has a Dec. 19 hearing scheduled in Hennepin County District Court on a charge of theft.
Brinton, 35, of Rockville, Md., was reached by telephone Tuesday afternoon and declined to comment about the case. Their attorney has yet to return messages to the Star Tribune.
An announcement on Twitter said Brinton assumed the job in the Biden administration on June 19. The post includes leading the mission to help the government locate sites to store radioactive waste from the nation's nuclear power plants.
An Energy Department spokesperson said Tuesday that Brinton is on leave as the case progresses.
According to the criminal complaint:
On Sept. 16, airport police were alerted about a suitcase missing from the baggage claim area. The owner said she and her son arrived in the Twin Cities from New Orleans late that afternoon.
Brinton arrived from Washington, D.C., on a different flight around the same time and did not have a checked bag.
Police reviewed video surveillance and saw Brinton remove the luggage from the carousel and put the bag's tag in their hand bag before leaving "at a quick pace," the complaint read.
The owner of the suitcase looked at an image of the suitcase pulled from the video and confirmed it was hers. She told police what was in the luggage, and "the total estimated value of the contents and the bag came to $2,325," the complaint continued.
Brinton checked into a downtown St. Paul hotel later that day and had the woman's luggage. On Sept. 18, they checked the stolen luggage on a flight back to Washington, D.C. Brinton used the luggage again on Oct. 9 for a trip to Europe, according to video surveillance from Washington Dulles Airport in northern Virginia.
An MSP police officer called Brinton on the same day of the flight from Europe and asked about the theft. They at first denied knowing anything about it, then acknowledged taking the suitcase but denied that clothes for another person were inside.
"If I had taken the wrong bag, I am happy to return it," the complaint quoted Brinton as saying, "but I don't have any clothes for another individual. That was my clothes when I opened the bag."
Brinton called the officer back and apologized for not being honest and recalled being tired and thinking the luggage was theirs. Brinton recounted opening the suitcase at the St. Paul hotel and getting nervous about being thought of as a thief. The clothes were left in the hotel dresser, they said.