Last Tuesday, a federal judge threw the book at a pharmacist from Wisconsin who was accused of trashing many vials of the Covid-19 vaccine. Identified as Steven Brandenburg, he was deemed responsible for the incident last January, which was considered a serious offense in the middle of a pandemic.
A serious crime
When the sentence was handed down to the accused, one of the reasons given for the jail sentence was that Brandenburg destroyed something vital to alleviating a public health crisis. He got a total of three years in prison for his offense, reported NBC via Yahoo News. Brandenburg during his trial last January faced two counts of tampering with a consumer product with serious disregard for the consequences.
The defendant faced up to 51 months in jail under federal guidelines regarding his offense. But he was also liable for 10 years for each count against him, which was more than the three years given. After he serves time, Brandenburg will be under supervision for another three years. He was also sentenced to pay $83,000 for all the vaccines he destroyed.
Brandenburg did not receive the possible maximum sentence for his crime, but other conditions made it more difficult for a pharmacist accused of destroying 500 vials of the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton in a statement, cited by the United States Department of Justice, "Trying to sabotage vaccine doses deliberately during a national public health emergency is a serious crime." He added, "To safeguard these life-saving treatments, the Justice Department will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners."
Brandenburg was terminated from the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wisconsin last December after confessing to "intentionally discarding the vaccines from refrigerators," said the hospital.
In a statement noted by NBC affiliate WTMJ, it was reported that the defendant confessed to the sentencing court. He also said he was sorry and ashamed for his grave offense that has affected many. In court, he said his apologies and thanked U.S. District Court Judge Brett Ludwig publicly.
Judge Ludwig said the apology was accepted. The judge stated, "I think your words are genuine." "I wish you the best of luck serving your sentence and getting forward with your life."
Prosecutors alleged doses of the Moderna vaccine had been deliberately taken from refrigeration during two consecutive overnight shifts last December, possibly rendering them useless because vaccine vials should be stored at particular temperatures.
According to the Department of Justice, Brandenburg replaced the vaccines in the refrigerator once he realized they had been left out. The incident led to 57 patients getting shot with potentially spoiled vaccines.
The convicted pharmacist is a "confirmed conspiracy theorist," that according to Grafton police, "told investigators that he thought the Covid-19 vaccination really wasn't safe for people and could hurt them and change their DNA."
Reports say that Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board took away his license earlier this year, which will prohibit him from working at state pharmacies. A pharmacist accused of destroying 500 vials of COVID vaccine was given a severe sentence that including a revoked license.