Former Aurora Health Care pharmacist who allegedly manipulated with COVID-19 vaccines at a Grafton Medical Center last month was charged with attempted crime of criminal property damage Tuesday.
Steven Brandenburg, a 46-year-old Grafton resident, faces a prison sentence of up to nine months, a fine of $ 10,000, or both if convicted of a Class A misdemeanor.
Brandenburg, whose license has since been suspended, said in a confession via email that in late December he had twice removed a box of Moderna vaccines from a refrigerator at Aurora Medical Center-Grafton in order to render them ineffective, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Ozaukee County Circuit Court.
Brandenburg allegedly took 57 bottles with 10 cans each from the refrigerator.
He told investigators that he wanted to damage the vaccine because he believed it was unsafe and would alter people’s DNA. Conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccines are rife online. While mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine used to protect against infectious diseases, the vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer have been approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to the CDC, the mRNA from the vaccine never makes its way into the nucleus and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.
During a January 4 court hearing, the Ozaukee District Attorney said Adam Gerol Brandenburg could face more serious charges if the affected vaccine doses were less effective. Testing of the affected vaccine doses for effectiveness will continue, according to the complaint.
A representative from Moderna said the vaccine would become less effective if left at room temperature for 24 hours. According to the complaint, the affected vaccines were left unrefrigerated for about 12 hours.
Brandenburg told investigators that his alleged manipulation of the vaccine was a “spontaneous act” and that he was “not thinking clearly due to persistent personal affairs and lack of sleep,” the complaint said.
He had originally told an Aurora official that he had left out the vaccines due to an accident, but admitted a day later that he had done so on purpose, according to the complaint.
Brandenburg is due to appear in court for the first time this afternoon.