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Former Energy Department official appears in MN courtroom on luggage theft charges

Former U.S. Energy Department official Sam Brinton is charged in both Hennepin County and Clark County, Nevada, for allegedly stealing women's luggage from airports.

MINNEAPOLIS — It was a bizarre crime allegedly committed in Minnesota that led to a U.S. Department of Energy official losing their job.

Sam Brinton returned to Minneapolis on Wednesday to face the charge in court.

Brinton is charged in Hennepin County and Clark County, Nevada, for allegedly stealing women's luggage at two airports containing thousands of dollars of property.

Sam Brinton left the Minneapolis Public Safety Facility without answering questions after a first court appearance for an alleged crime, best described as "strange."

In early 2022, Brinton made news by becoming the first gender-fluid person in federal government leadership, becoming the top official responsible for nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Then in October, Brinton was charged in Hennepin County with felony theft when a woman at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport reported her suitcase missing from baggage claim. 

According to the criminal complaint, on video surveillance Brinton can be seen taking it and checking into the Intercontinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel with it.

When contacted by police over the phone, the court papers say Brinton eventually admitted taking the bag but leaving the clothes inside the drawers in the hotel room, and later checking the bag at the airport and flying back to Washington, D.C. with it. 

Police say no clothing was recovered in the hotel room and the victim hasn't gotten her property back.

Brinton's tenure with the Department of Energy ended in December after the nuclear engineer allegedly committed the exact same crime at the Las Vegas airport. 

Police say this surveillance image shows Brinton taking a suitcase from baggage claim there belonging to someone else.

 This very well could have been Brinton's only court appearance in Minnesota because the judge today said the next hearing can be held over Zoom. 

Brinton was released without bail on the condition they do not contact the victim.

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