A Wisconsin pharmacist will plead guilty to attempting to spoil hundreds of doses of the coronavirus vaccine at the hospital where he worked, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
Steven Brandenburg, a pharmacist at a hospital in Grafton, Wisc., admitted as part of the plea deal that he intentionally removed boxes of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine from a storage refrigerator on two separate nights, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.
According to prosecutors, Brandenburg removed boxes of the Moderna vaccine and left them sitting out for several hours. He intended “to render that same vaccine inert or ineffective,” prosecutors said.
On Dec. 26, 57 people received vaccinations from the doses that Brandenburg attempted to spoil. Investigators are still trying to determine if Brandenburg was successful in spoiling the vaccine doses, according to prosecutors.
He was arrested on Dec. 31.
Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg, an admitted conspiracy theorist, has been accused of deliberately destroying vaccine doses. @tomcostellonbc reports he is now facing charges. pic.twitter.com/ysUL1OkwR6
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 5, 2021
According to prosecutors, Brandenburg had expressed skepticism to colleagues over the Moderna vaccine. He had been critical of other vaccines over the past two years, according to the plea deal.
Brandenburg’s wife, who filed for divorce from him over the summer, filed an affidavit on Dec. 30, saying that Brandenburg had espoused conspiracy theories about the government shutting down the power grid.
Brian Boynton, the acting assistant attorney for the Justice Department’s civil division, said that Brandenburg’s tampering with the vaccine “in the midst of a global health crises” called for “a strong response.”
Brandenburg agreed to plead guilty to two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
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