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Pharmacist sent to prison for trying to destroy COVID-19 vaccines

Steven Brandenburg

MILWAUKEE (WKOW) - A pharmacist was sentenced to prison time Tuesday for trying to spoil COVID-19 vaccines last year, WISN reports.

Steven R. Brandenburg, 46, of Grafton, was sentenced to three years in prison. He previously pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal damage to property.

Related: "Pharmacist to plead guilty to attempting to spoil vaccine"

Brandenburg, a former pharmacist at Advocate Aurora Health, was arrested in December after authorities said he deliberately left COVID-19 vaccine vials out of refrigeration. Authorities said he left vials out two nights in a row and returned them to refrigeration each morning.

Before the Brandenburg's conduct was discovered, authorities initially said 57 people received doses left out of refrigeration. Prosecutors said it was unclear if the vaccines had actually spoiled.

According to the plea agreement, Brandenburg believed in  “conspiracy theories” subscribed to notions of “alternative history”; and was skeptical of vaccines in general and the Moderna vaccine specifically. The document states he relayed his beliefs on vaccines to co-workers over the previous two years.

WISN reported Brandenburg will be on federal probation for three years following his release from prison. He was also ordered to pay $84,000 in restitution to Aurora Grafton.

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