Reported Luggage Theft at Las Vegas Airport Leads to Nuclear Waste Official’s Firing

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The Department of Energy has fired a top nuclear waste official accused of stealing luggage from airports, according to multiple reports.

Sam Brinton, who is 35 and nonbinary, is charged with stealing one bag in July 2022 from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, and another in September 2022 from Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

Sam Brinton is no longer employed as a federal nuclear waste official, following two felony charges of stealing airport luggage. (Image: YouTube)

“Sam Brinton is no longer a DOE employee. By law, the Department of Energy cannot comment further on personnel matters,” a spokesperson for the DOE told the Daily Beast on Monday.

Brinton, the Biden administration’s former deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition, faces up to 10 years in prison for the Las Vegas charge and up to five years for the Minneapolis-St. Paul charge. An arrest warrant was filed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police last Thursday in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Caught on Camera

According to the warrant, Brinton was caught on surveillance footage stealing a $320 suitcase containing more than $3,500 worth of jewelry, clothing, and makeup on July 6. A woman filed an online police report about the theft on July 10, claiming that one of her three pieces of luggage was stolen after her flight landed in Las Vegas.

According to the warrant, the footage showed a person, in a white T-shirt with a rainbow-colored atomic nuclear symbol design, removing a bag matching the victim’s description of her luggage from the baggage claim area.

“Brinton pulled the victim’s luggage from the carousel and examined the tag, then, placing it back on the carousel, look(ed) in all directions for anyone who might be watching,” the warrant read. Brinton then picked the luggage back up and quickly walked out of the airport, according to the warrant.

Second Time Around

On November 29, a Las Vegas police officer saw a news article naming Brinton as a suspect in a similar September 16 Minneapolis-St. Paul incident, in which the bag and its contents were valued at $2,325. Brinton was charged with felony theft in that case on October 26. Brinton is due to appear in Minnesota’s 4th Judicial District Court to answer that charge on December 19.

After being observed using the same bag on two subsequent trips to Washington, DC, Brinton reportedly admitted taking the bag in an interview with police. He blamed the theft on exhaustion. Nevertheless, Brinton was placed on leave from the agency following the accusation.

The Las Vegas charge was filed after the Las Vegas police officer checked a passenger manifest for the July 6 flight and found Brinton listed as a passenger. A selfie was also found posted to Brinton’s Instagram featuring the nuclear symbol shirt.

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