A former government official who identifies as nonbinary was spared jail time for a string of thefts and instead required to undergo an assessment of his mental health.
Former deputy assistant secretary of Nuclear Energy at the Department of Energy, Samuel Brinton, used his government status to attend an adult diversion program for a theft he committed at the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport in 2022.
Brinton needs to get evaluated for his mental health and complete other obligations, such as sending an apologetic letter to the owner of the stolen bags.
According to an email from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the matter was handled with a diversion opportunity. When a person has no prior felony convictions, the issue can be resolved legally. By doing so, the defendant can demonstrate accountability, accept responsibility for their actions, and, if successful, have the charges against them dropped.
A mental health evaluation and subsequent adherence to all advice, signing a release of information within two weeks of intake to allow clinicians to give updates on progress, completing three days of community service, and writing an apology letter are all required as part of this diversion.
On September 16, 2022, Brinton was seen on surveillance film at the airport retrieving a suitcase with another passenger’s name on it, removing the tag, and then checking into a nearby hotel. After telling police officials he had not stolen anything, Brinton later reported to airport police that he had taken a suitcase.
Brinton could have gotten up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Brinton’s participation in the diversion program guarantees he will not be incarcerated for a second time.
In addition, Brinton was caught on camera in July 2022 stealing someone else’s bags from the Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.
After removing the bag’s tag, Brinton allegedly stole things valued at over $3,670 and fled the airport.
According to the documents, Brinton was charged with felony theft but pled no contest to a lesser theft charge.
On April 12, Judge Ann Zimmerman issued a suspended term of probation to Brinton. According to the court documents, Brinton owes $3,670 in reparation to the victim and must remain law-abiding.
A lawyer for Brinton did not respond to the request for comment.
The agency announced to the press that the Energy Department would no longer employ Brinton after 2022. Whether Brinton resigned or was fired is still unknown.
After the initial allegations were filed against Brinton, he was placed on administrative leave. A receipt indicating Brinton was paid his six-figure salary even while on administrative leave has been obtained.
Brinton’s official email and phone were turned off, and his access to government buildings was revoked, as evidenced by this document.
Brinton’s official government biography and Brinton’s own social media posts both highlight Brinton’s non-binary status.
Brinton is also a prominent voice for the rights of young LGBTQ people.