Former Wisconsin pharmacist to plead guilty in spoiled COVID-10 vaccine case
GRAFTON, Wis. — A Wisconsin pharmacist, accused of intentionally spoiling COVID-19 vaccine vials, intends to plead guilty to charges filed Tuesday in federal court.
Steven R. Brandenburg, 46, of Grafton, was charged with two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products, according to a release posted on the Department of Justice website.
Brandenburg has agreed to plead guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. He was also charged in Ozaukee County Circuit Court earlier this month with misdemeanor property damage.
Brandenburg was working as a hospital pharmacist at Advocate Aurora Health before his arrest.
According to court documents, he deliberately removed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines from refrigeration during two overnight shifts in December. These vaccines must be refrigerated in order to remain viable.
Brandenburg reportedly left the vaccines out for several hours each night, before returning them to the refrigerator to be used the following day at the hospital’s vaccine clinic, the release said. Fifty-seven people received doses of the vaccine from these vials.
Officials said the vials contained enough doses to inoculate more than 500 people. Police said the discarded doses were worth between $8,000 and $11,000.
According to court documents, Brandenburg said that he was skeptical of vaccines in general and of the Moderna vaccine. Detectives described Brandenburg as an admitted conspiracy theorist. Court documents also indicate that Brandenburg shared his beliefs about vaccines with coworkers for the past two years.
Health experts say there is no truth to claims that the vaccines can genetically modify humans.
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