Fashion designer who lost her luggage in 2018 claims embattled US nuclear official has been wearing her clothes

“I saw the images. Those were my custom designs, which were lost in that bag in 2018,” the designer says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 23 February 2023 15:49 GMT
<p>Sam Brinton speaks onstage during the Trevor Project's TrevorLIVE LA 2018 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 3, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California</p>

Sam Brinton speaks onstage during the Trevor Project's TrevorLIVE LA 2018 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 3, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California

A Houston-based fashion designer has alleged that clothing she lost when her luggage disappeared at an airport in Washington, DC in 2018 has been worn by a former US nuclear official who was reportedly fired from the Department of Energy last year after a string of alleged luggage thefts.

Asya Khamsin has designed and made her clothing by hand for a number of years. She told Fox News Digital that she recently saw a report that nuclear engineer and former US nuclear official Sam Brinton, a non-binary LGBT+ advocate, had been charged with stealing several pieces of luggage all over the US.

She told the outlet that she spotted Brinton wearing her clothes in a number of photos.

Ms Khamsin told Fox that she packed the clothes in a bag that was lost on 9 March 2018 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

“I saw the images. Those were my custom designs, which were lost in that bag in 2018,” she said, adding that Brinton “wore my clothes, which [were] stolen”.

The Tanzanian designer based in Texas said she had travelled to DC to take part in an event to which she had been invited to display her items. But after her bag disappeared, she was unable to take part.

Along with her husband, Ms Khamsin filed a report with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department, but the issue never came to a resolution. They also put in a claim with the airline for the Houston to DC trip – Delta.

Ms Khamsin shared the communications she had with Delta with Fox, in which she told the airline that the bag held expensive clothes, shoes, jewellery, and other items.

She filed a report with the Houston Police Department on 16 December after spotting clothing that looked similar to the items in the bag in press reports regarding Brinton.

Sam Brinton attends TrevorLIVE NYC on 11 June 2018 in clothing fashion designer Asya Khamsin told Fox is hers

Sam Brinton attends TrevorLIVE LA on 3 December 2018 in clothing fashion designer Asya Khamsin told Fox is hers

Her husband said she got a call about the complaint late last month from the FBI field office in Minneapolis, according to Fox.

“Houston police, I guess, they [sent] the case to the FBI in Minnesota,” he told Fox. “He called to say, ‘I’m [with] the FBI, I’m working on this case.’ Then my wife gave him the information and we didn’t hear anything. We don’t know whether the case is on. We don’t know whether the case is cold.”

Brinton hasn’t been charged with any crimes in connection to the allegations made by Ms Khamsin, Fox noted.

The Independent reported in November that Brinton is facing accusations that they stole a suitcase at an airport in Minneapolis.

Court documents reveal that the 35-year-old, who was appointed last year as the head of spent nuclear fuel management at the Department of Energy, allegedly stole a bag from a carousel at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport, leading to Brinton being charged with felony theft.

Brinton was reportedly fired in December.

After starting their new role as deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in June, Brinton was spotted on security footage in September retrieving a bag that appeared similar to one that had been reported missing.

The bag was described as “a navy blue hard-sided roller bag” in a criminal complaint filed on 27 October, according to Exchange Monitor.

The legal filing states that Brinton appeared to remove the “bag’s tag and put the bag tag in the handbag they were carrying,” and “left the area at a quick pace”.

The complaint states that Brinton told law enforcement officials that “if I had taken the wrong bag, I am happy to return it, but I don’t have clothes for another individual”.

“That was my clothes when I opened the bag,” they said.

Brinton allegedly got in touch with airport staff later to say that they hadn’t been “completely honest” and “admitted to taking the blue bag”.

They said they were “tired and took the suitcase thinking it was theirs”.

The complaint states that Brinton grew nervous after opening the bag as they realized it wasn’t theirs. They said they became “nervous people would think they stole the bag and did not know what to do”.

The legal filing states that the woman who reported the bag as missing identified the bag as being hers after watching several surveillance videos. She said the value of the bag and the contents total around $2,325.

According to the Minneapolis-St Paul Airport Police Department, Brinton arrived in Minnesota on an American Airlines flight from Washington DC and they didn’t check a bag.

Surveillance footage from 18 September then showed Brinton checking a blue bag on a flight back to Washington, the complaint says.

Law enforcement got in touch with Brinton after they were seen on security footage on 9 October arriving back at Dulles International Airport in Virginia following a trip to Europe to discuss what took place the previous month, according to the complaint.

Brinton said they left the clothes from the bag in a drawer at the InterContinental St Paul Riverfront hotel.

“No clothing was recovered from the hotel room,” the complaint said.

It was reported that Brinton was on leave from the Energy Department for at least a month before the department said in December that Brinton was no longer employed there.

The acting deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel, Kim Petry, who has been covering for Brinton, wrote in an email to co-workers on 18 November that Kathryn Huff, the assistant secretary for nuclear energy, asked Ms Petry to stay in her role for the “foreseeable future,” according to Exchange Monitor.

Brinton may face as much as five years in prison. They were released without bail last week after a court hearing, Fox reported.

Prosecutors in Nevada charged Brinton with grand larceny of between $1,200 and $5,000. They were accused of taking a bag valued at $3,670 on 6 July from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. Brinton was released after bail was set at $15,000 and a judge told Brinton to “stay out of trouble,” according to Fox.

The Independent has reached out to an attorney for Brinton for comment.

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