Milwaukee – A former Wisconsin pharmaceutical employee who purposely messed up more than 500 COVID-19 vaccines was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison.
Steven Brandenburg, 46, of Grafton, pleaded guilty in February to two serious counts of attempted tampering with a consumer product. He admitted to having intentionally removed Moderna-manufactured doses for hours from a refrigerator at the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, just north of Milwaukee.
In a statement released before receiving his punishment, Brandenburg said he was “very embarrassed” and accepted responsibility for his actions. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper reported that the man apologized to his colleagues, his family and the community.
Most of the manipulated doses were later destroyed, but after 57 people had already been inoculated with part of them. Those doses are believed to still be effective, but some of the vaccinated people went through weeks of uncertainty, anger, anxiety and anguish, according to documents processed in court.
Prosecutors asked for a sentence of three years and five months in prison. Brandenburg faced a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars and fines of $ 250,000 for each offense.
Brandenburg has admitted to inventing conspiracy theories and claiming that he is a prophet and that vaccines are the product of the devil. He also expressed the belief that the Earth is flat and that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were false.
Recently, Brandenburg secretly substituted saline for a flu vaccine that he was required to receive and convinced several co-workers to also secretly change the flu vaccine, according to court documents.