Steven Brandenburg, 46, has been accused of removing COVID-19 vaccine doses from refrigeration units with the alleged intent of rendering them ineffective

By Gabrielle Chung
January 14, 2021 05:50 PM
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Steven Brandenburg
| Credit: Ozaukee County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

A now-fired pharmacist in Wisconsin had his license suspended by a state board after he was accused of intentionally spoiling more than 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to an order issued by the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board obtained by PEOPLE, Steven Brandenburg, 46, will not be allowed to practice pharmacy in the state or work at a pharmacy in any capacity while the suspension is in place.

The order said Brandenburg was first licensed as a pharmacist on August 22, 1997, and he voluntarily agreed to the suspension "in order to focus on the anticipated criminal case(s)" against him.

Brandenburg was working as a pharmacist at a medical facility in Grafton when he allegedly removed COVID-19 vaccine doses from refrigeration units on Dec. 24 and 25 with the alleged intent of rendering them ineffective, according to the order.

Brandenburg, who worked at the Aurora Medical Center, has since been discharged from his post , the order said.

His attorney, Jason Baltz, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Brandenburg was arrested on three charges — recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property — and released from jail after posting a $10,000 bond, online records confirm.

During a court hearing on Jan. 4, Brandenburg was asked not to enter pleas to the three recommended charges he was initially detained on as authorities worked to determine if vials were indeed ruined, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Brandenburg's charges could be amended depending on the results of the testing Moderna's doing on the tainted vials, according to the outlet.

If the doses were not, in fact, ruined, most of those charges would be dismissed.

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In divorce papers filed the day before Brandenburg's arrest and obtained by WISN, Brandenburg's wife, Gretchen Brandenburg, alleged that her husband is an "admitted conspiracy theorist" who has rental units where he is storing "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," she wrote in the filing.

The divorce filing also referenced a conversation the couple had when he dropped off a water purifier, a large bucket of powdered milk and two 30-day emergency food buckets to her and their children.

"He told me that if I didn't understand by now that he is right and the world is crashing down around us that I was in serious denial," the wife told the judge, adding Brandenburg thought "the government is planning cyber attacks and plans to shut down the power grid."