Sam Brinton, a non-binary former senior Department of Energy (DOE) official, agreed in court Monday to undergo a mental health evaluation as part of an adult diversion program.
Brinton agreed to enter the adult diversion program during a remote Hennepin County, Minnesota, court hearing stemming from an airport baggage theft case. In October, police charged the former federal official with stealing a traveler’s baggage worth a total of $2,325 from the luggage carousel at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on Sept. 16 after flying in from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C.
Under the adult diversion program, Brinton will be required to have a mental health evaluation, write a letter of apology to the victim, return any stolen property and complete three days of community service, FOX affiliate KMSP-TV reported. According to court records, Brinton will report to a diversion appointment later this month.
Entering the diversion program appears to suggest Brinton will escape jail time or even have the theft case dismissed altogether.
“The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office recognizes that there are times when public safety is best served by diverting first-time offenders from the criminal justice system,” the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office states on its website. “Adult diversion programs refer these offenders to social services, chemical dependency or mental health resources.”
“First-time offenders are closely monitored to make sure they meet program expectations,” it continues. “The goals set include accountability, taking advantage of services offered, remaining law-abiding, completing community service, and paying restitution. Every successful diversion reduces costs in the criminal justice system and reduces the number of repeat offenders.”
Brinton had been charged in the case with felony theft of a movable property without consent, a charge that could result in a five-year sentence, $10,000 fine or both under Minnesota state statute.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The development in the case, meanwhile, comes a week after Brinton escaped jail time in a similar case in Nevada. On Wednesday, a Clark County, Nevada, judge ordered Brinton to pay $3,670.74 to the victim in that case and $500 in additional fees including a criminal fine.
In early December, Las Vegas prosecutors charged Brinton with grand larceny of an item valued between $1,200 and $5,000. Police accused Brinton of stealing a suitcase with a total estimated worth of $3,670 on July 6, 2022, at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. The bag contained jewelry valued at $1,700, clothing worth $850 and makeup valued at $500.
Las Vegas police originally closed the investigation in July last year, but reopened it after seeing reports about Brinton being charged in the Minnesota case.
After Brinton — who made headlines in June 2022 after being appointed to the position that oversees nuclear waste policy at the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy as a non-binary gender-fluid person— was charged in October, the DOE quietly put Brinton on leave. The agency then announced on Dec. 12 that Brinton had departed the agency but wouldn’t comment on the reason for the departure.