A former Wisconsin pharmacist has learned the price one pays for attempting to destroy more than 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines: 3 years in prison. That's the sentence Steven Brandenburg was handed on Tuesday. He was arrested in December after copping to removing Moderna doses from refrigeration for hours at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton; 57 people, mostly Aurora employees, received a sabotaged dose. "Those doses that were compromised were our very first doses," said the center's president, Dr. Michelle Blakely, in comments to the court, reports FOX6. The 46-year-old pleaded guilty in February to two felony counts of attempt to tamper with a consumer product. He faced up to 10 years; prosecutors wanted 4 years and 3 months. He will also pay $84,000 in restitution to Advocate Aurora Health.
Jason Baltz, a lawyer for Brandenburg, elaborated on his motive and mental state in comments to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, citing a past experience one of his daughters had involving an eczema diagnosis after receiving a childhood inoculation, the toll of being a healthcare worker during the pandemic, and his wife's decision to file for divorce. He also referenced Brandenburg's belief in conspiracy theories, with the AP noting Brandenburg believes he is a prophet and that vaccines are the devil's work. Prior to being sentenced, Brandenburg himself spoke of the "great shame" he felt, saying he is "tormented ... daily" by his actions. (Brandenburg's wife said in court documents that she feared for her children's safety.)