Wisconsin Pharmacist Accused of Destroying COVID-19 Vaccines Is Allegedly a 'Conspiracy Theorist'
Authorities in Wisconsin say a hospital worker accused of intentionally spoiling more than 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is an admitted conspiracy theorist who believed the inoculations were unsafe.
WDJT reports that, in a probable cause statement, investigators allege Steven Brandenburg, 46, told them he thought the vaccine was capable of altering its recipients' DNA. (There is no scientific basis for such a belief, and multiple large-scale studies have shown that vaccines are safe.)
Brandenburg, a pharmacist who has since been fired, stands accused of intentionally spoiling 57 vials containing 570 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by removing them from refrigeration units and leaving them out for two nights.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also obtained a copy of the probable cause statement against Brandenburg, which alleges "he admitted this was an intentional act."
Brandenburg was released from jail after posting $10,000 bond, online records confirm. PEOPLE was unable to reach him for comment Tuesday.
During a court hearing Monday, he was not asked to enter pleas to the three recommended charges he was initially detained on: recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property. According to the Journal Sentinel, those charges could be amended, depending on the results of testing Moderna's doing on the tainted vials.
If the doses were not, in fact, ruined, most of those charges would be dismissed.
WISN obtained divorce papers filed the day before Brandenburg's arrest by his wife which allege Brandenburg is an "admitted conspiracy theorist." His wife, Gretchen Brandenburg, told a judge her husband 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 references 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," she told the judge, adding Brandenburg thought "the government is planning cyber attacks and plans to shut down the power grid."
Brandenburg's wife also said she was worried for her children's safety after her youngest returned from a weekend visit with her father, saying, "This is not our home, Heaven is our home."
"Based on these statements, I am concerned that the children are in imminent harm, especially that Steven would take the children to heaven," the wife said.
Prosecutors have not formally charged Brandenburg, but the Department of Safety and Professional Services -- which handles Brandenburg's pharmacy license -- confirmed it is conducting its own investigation.
Grafton Police allege the vaccines Brandenburg allegedly tampered with are valued at between $8,550 and $11,400.
Brandenburg's attorneys were not available for comment.
Multiple large-scale studies have found that vaccines are safe. There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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This story originally appeared on people.com