A Wisconsin pharmacist accused of deliberately destroying vials of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is a flat-Earther and ‘very engaged in conspiracy theories’, say colleagues.
Steven Brandenburg, 46, allegedly told a co-worker at Advocate Aurora Health Systems that the sky ‘is a shield put up by the Government to prevent individuals from seeing God.’
He was arrested by officers with the Grafton Police Department on December 31 and he has since been investigated by the FBI, according to a warrant application obtained by Daily Beast.
Steven Brandenburg, 46, allegedly told a co-worker about his beliefs in conspiracy theories before he tampered with the Moderna vaccine box
The vaccines, which were not tampered with besides being removed from a refrigerator, were given to at least 57 patients
Brandenburg, left, has since been fired from his job and faces up to 10 years in prison
Brandenburg, a pharmacist at the hospital pharmacy, has been charged with first degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property.
Federal authorities allege that the pharmacist deliberately removed a box containing the vials from a refrigerator knowing it could ruin the vaccine – which was then given to at least 57 patients.
Dr. Jeff Bahr, president of Aurora Health Care Medical Group, said there is ‘no evidence’ Brandenburg tampered with the vaccine in any other way other than removing it from the fridge.
A warrant application to search Brandenburg’s iPhone, laptop and a USB stick was filed in federal court by FBI Special Agent Lindsay Schloemer.
The warrant shows that investigators with the hospital interviewed a co-worker of Brandenburg named Sarah Sticker – who reportedly discovered the box of vaccines had been tampered with and turned him in.
‘Sticker immediately suspected Brandenburg of removing the vaccine from the refrigerator because of his vocal convictions against the vaccine,’ the warrant reads.
‘Brandenburg has explained to Sticker that he does not believe the coronavirus is real, and he thinks the vaccine is going to harm people.’
Investigators interviewed a technician named Sarah Sticker who had allegedly reported Brandenburg
Sticker told investigators that Brandenburg was ‘very engaged in conspiracy theories’ and thinks that the vaccine is ‘micro-chipped’ to turn off some people’s birth control while making others infertile.
‘Sticker said that Brandenburg has been voicing his theories for months at work to anyone that would listen,’ the warrant reads.
‘Some of the conspiracy theories Brandenburg told Sticker about included: the earth is flat; the sky is not real, rather it is a shield put up by the Government to prevent individuals from seeing God; and Judgment Day is coming.’
Brandenburg admitted to investigators that he had tampered with the vaccine vials and explained that he believed the Moderna vaccine ‘could hurt people and was not safe to administer,’ according to the warrant.
‘My actions were inexcusable and I deeply apologize for the harm I have caused,’ Brandburg said in an email to hospital investigators documented in the warrant.
Brandenburg, pictured, allegedly said the sky is a ‘shield put up by the government’ to prevent people from seeing God
Brandburg then went into a litany of explanations for his behavior in removing the vaccines from their refrigerator.
‘It’s not an excuse but I have been under a tremendous amount of pressure in my life within the past two weeks and preceding 6 months,’ Brandenburg wrote in the email, noting a ‘very contentions divorce’ and separation from his children.
‘In the last two weeks I have been functioning on little to no sleep alternating with too much sleep from taking prescribed clonazepam when the lack of sleep was too much to bear.’
Clonazepam, also known by its brand name Klonopin, is used to treat seizures, panic disorder, and anxiety.
The pharmacist was also interviewed by the Grafton Police Department, who recorded the interview with a body camera, and admitted ‘he is a conspiracy theorist,’ according to the warrant.
‘Brandenburg noted that he has had an interest in conspiracy theories for the past 7 years and was vocal at work about his beliefs,’ the warrant reads.
Sticker also told investigators that Brandenburg carried a .45-caliber handgun to work ‘in case the military came to take him away.’
Gretchen Brandenburg, his wife, said in court filings made on December 30 that he had a storage units filled with ‘bulk food and guns.’
‘I was so concerned about my safety and the safety of the children, that I left town for a period of time,’ Gretchen wrote in the filings, obtained by WISN.
Gretchen also told the judge that Brandenburg thought ‘the government is planning cyber attacks and plans to shut down the power grid,’ according to the outlet.
Brandenburg has since been fired from his job and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each charge after agreeing to plead guilty to two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard.
Join our social media accounts to watch exclusive videos and photos