Wisconsin lawmaker's daughter charged in opioid death

Wisconsin lawmaker's daughter charged in opioid death
Posted at 7:55 PM, Oct 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-19 20:55:21-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The daughter of a Wisconsin legislator was formally charged Thursday with causing the overdose death of a pregnant woman.

Cassandra Nygren, 28, of Green Bay was charged in Brown County court with two felony counts of reckless homicide -- one by delivering drugs and another involving the death of an unborn child.

Nygren and her boyfriend, 33-year-old Shawn Gray, are accused of providing the fentanyl that killed 31-year-old Jennifer Skeen, who was about six months pregnant when she died near Green Bay in June. The fetus also did not survive.

According to the complaint, Nygren told an investigator: "Ever since Jen has died it has been bothering me that I supplied a pregnant woman with heroin, but I was just looking to help her and was worried about her getting the heroin from someone else with (an) unknown type of heroin."

Nygren's long struggle with drugs has spurred her father, Republican Rep. John Nygren, to sponsor numerous bills aimed at curbing opioid addiction over the years. Cassandra Nygren became an advocate for sobriety after spending two years in prison following a near-fatal overdose. She was convicted again in 2015 of drug possession and admitted to drug court, an alternative program aimed at helping participants fight addiction. But she was kicked out of that program in 2016 for violating the court's rules.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has signed nearly 30 bills sponsored by Rep. Nygren since 2013 that deal with opioids. The lawmaker said in a statement that his daughter's arrest is another example of "the disastrous and destructive consequences" of addiction.

After their arrest last week, Chief Deputy Todd Delain described the couple as mid-level dealers who sold drugs to support themselves and their drug habit. When officers attempted to arrest them on Oct. 10, Delain said they fled in a car with Nygren's 14-month-old child inside. They were later taken into custody.

Nygren also is charged with delivering heroin, child neglect, operating a drug trafficking place, possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia, and resisting an officer.

Both Nygren and Gray remain in jail, with bail set at $50,000 each. Nygren returns to court Nov. 8 for a preliminary hearing.