Pharmacist Sentenced to 3 Years for Tampering With COVID-19 Vaccines

June 9, 2021 Updated: June 9, 2021

A federal judge has sentenced a Wisconsin pharmacist to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges that he tampered with COVID-19 vaccines.

Steven Brandenburg, who was a pharmacist based in Grafton, signed a guilty plea on Feb. 9 admitting that he had removed hundreds of doses of Moderna’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccine from refrigerators at the Aurora Medical Center in December 2020. According to a Department of Justice statement, he removed the vaccines with the intent to destroy them.

Before receiving his sentence on June 8, Brandenburg said in a statement that he felt “great shame” and took responsibility.

“I did not have the right to make this decision for them,” he said. “I’m tormented by it daily.”

The DOJ stated that Brandenburg pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or bodily injury.

Brandenburg “purposefully removed a box of COVID-19 vaccine vials” that have to be stored at certain temperatures.

The DOJ noted that Brandenburg told officials that he was “skeptical of vaccines in general, and the Moderna vaccine specifically, and had communicated his beliefs about vaccines to his co-workers.”

According to the release, Brandenburg said he left the vaccines out for several hours every night before returning them to the cold storage when he entered the hospital’s vaccine clinic the next day. Fifty-seven people received doses of the vaccine from those vials.

“The purposeful attempt to spoil vaccine doses during a national public health emergency is a serious crime,” stated Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the DOJ’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue working with its law enforcement partners to safeguard these life-saving vaccines.”

Brandenburg had faced a possible 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each felony county. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of three years and five months in prison.

Court documents stated that Brandenburg said he believes the Earth is flat, the 9/11 attacks were faked, and that he is a prophet.

Advocate Aurora Health, which operates the Aurora Medical Center, said in a statement to news outlets that it condemns Brandenburg’s actions.

“With safety always our top priority, we continue to move forward after the despicable actions of this individual. Since this incident, our successful vaccination program has continued with more than 700,000 doses administered to date,” the company stated.