The Wisconsin pharmacist who intentionally left out hundreds of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine doses so they would be less effective has agreed to plead guilty.
Reuters reports that Steven Brandenburg, 46, is charged with two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products and reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury, according to a statement by the Justice Department.
The former pharmacist has signed a plea agreement to plead guilty to the charges and faces up to ten years in prison for each count.
“Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is critical to overcoming this pandemic, which continues to end lives and upend our economy,” United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger said. “As these charges show, the Justice Department will pursue anyone—and especially any medical professional—who tampers with the vaccine.”
According to the statement, Brandenburg believed in “conspiracy theories” and was skeptical about vaccines, specifically the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.
In December, Brandenburg intentionally left a box of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines out of the refrigerator for extended periods to render them ineffective. He did so throughout two-night shifts at the facility where he worked, Aurora Medical Center. Fifty-seven people received doses of the affected vaccine.