The Biden administration on Friday refused to say whether top nuclear waste official Samuel Brinton is still receiving a government salary after being charged with theft.
Brinton, who is non-binary, was appointed deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition earlier this year. In October, they were charged with stealing a $2,325 Vera Bradley suitcase from Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on Sept. 16.
In an email to The Post, the Department of Energy confirmed that Brinton, 35, had been placed on leave, but would not comment on whether they were still getting a government paycheck.
Court documents filed in late October allege that Brinton took the suitcase from a baggage carousel. Security camera footage reportedly shows the staffer removing the bag’s name label before absconding and using the bag for a month.
When a police officer called to discuss the incident a month later, Brinton initially denied any wrongdoing.
“If I had taken the wrong bag, I am happy to return it, but I don’t have any clothes for another individual,” they first told the officer. “That was my clothes when I opened the bag.”
A few hours later, however, Brinton amended their statement, saying that they took the bag by accident due to exhaustion. When they got to their hotel and realized it was not theirs, they worried that someone would think they stole it, and disposed of the person’s clothes in the drawers of the hotel dresser.
Brinton was subsequently charged with felony theft of movable property without consent. If convicted, they face five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
They are next expected in court on Dec. 19.
Brinton previously faced scrutiny as one of the government’s first non-binary staffers. Born in Iowa to Southern Baptist parents, they told Yahoo! Life in an October how the trauma of being forced into conversion therapy as a teen inspired them to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights with the Trevor Project.
“I’m proud to say that, yes, I get to be the first openly genderfluid person in this type of government service, but I won’t be the last,” they told the outlet.