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Former Grafton pharmacist who spoiled vials of COVID-19 vaccine sentenced to 3 years in prison

Posted at 6:36 AM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 19:53:51-04

The former Grafton pharmacist who pleaded guilty in federal court on charges that he tried to spoil dozens of vials of COVID-19 vaccine, was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday.

Prosecutors in January charged Steven Brandenburg with two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products.

He was facing up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Police arrested Brandenburg back in December as part of an investigation into how 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine were left for hours outside a refrigerator. According to officials, Brandenburg took the vials out of a freezer and left them out for more than 12 hours in hopes of making them ineffective.

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He was convicted on two federal counts of Tampering With a Consumer Product and will also pay more than $83,000 in restitution to the hospital.

Prosecutors detailed his spiral into conspiracy theories and vaccine skepticism during their arguments, pushing for a prison sentence of more than four years.

Prosecutors noted that Brandenburg had a particular issue with the Moderna vaccine, believing it was micro-chipped and people who took it would be left infertile.

Records show on multiple occasions, he also created fake flu vaccine labels and convinced several co-workers to replace their annual flu shot with a lookalike placebo in the form of a saline solution.

Prosecutors also spoke about alarming behavior at home and Brandenburg's habit of bringing weapons to work. Brandenburg once told a witness it was in case the military came to get him.

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The defense argued that he was under pressure from the pandemic and divorce proceedings. Brandenburg also spoke for himself, apologizing to his estranged wife, daughters and Advocate Aurora.

Brandenburg believed the Moderna vaccine was not safe, according to court filings. He said he had done so because the vaccine "was unsafe for people and altered their DNA," a criminal complaint said.

There is no scientific evidence to support that claim.

AAH released this statement:

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, and the dropping COVID-19 numbers show how important the vaccines have been in moving us toward the end of the pandemic. The vaccines are safe and effective, and we remain fully committed to doing our part to distribute them in our communities.
Advocate Aurora Health

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