Anti-drug politi­cian’s daugh­ter ar­rested

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS -

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The daugh­ter of a Wis­con­sin leg­is­la­tor who has worked to stem the opi­oid epi­demic pro­vided the drugs that caused the death of a preg­nant wo­man, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said Thurs­day.

Brown County sher­iff’s of­fi­cials said they are rec­om­mend­ing a long list of charges against 28-year-old Cas­san­dra Ny­gren and her 33-year-old boyfriend, Shawn Gray, in­clud­ing first­de­gree reck­less homi­cide by de­liv­er­ing drugs.

The two ap­peared in court Thurs­day and were or­dered held on US$50,000 cash bond. For­mal charges are ex­pected next week.

Chief Deputy Todd De­lain said Ny­gren and Gray pro­vided the fen­tanyl that killed Jen­nifer Skeen, who was about six months preg­nant when she died near Green Bay in June. The fetus also did not sur­vive. An obit­u­ary listed Skeen’s age as 31.

At a news con­fer­ence, 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’s ar­rest is the lat­est chap­ter in her long bat­tle with drugs. She spent two years in prison af­ter a near-fa­tal over­dose. She was re­leased in 2014, be­com­ing an ad­vo­cate for so­bri­ety, but was con­victed again in 2015 of drug pos­ses­sion and ad­mit­ted to drug court, an al­ter­na­tive pro­gram aimed at help­ing par­tic­i­pants fight ad­dic­tion.

Ny­gren’s strug­gles spurred her fa­ther, Re­pub­li­can Rep. John Ny­gren, to spon­sor nu­mer­ous bills aimed at curb­ing opi­oid ad­dic­tion over the years. Wis­con­sin 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.

“Cassie has pub­licly strug­gled with ad­dic­tion and re­cov­ery for sev­eral years. This is a strong re­minder of how frag­ile the road to re­cov­ery is. We will con­tinue to sup­port and pray for her re­cov­ery,” he said.

He also ex­tended con­do­lences for the loss of life. “There are no words that we as a fam­ily can of­fer to give any real com­fort for this tragic loss,” he said.

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