GREEN BAY — A state representative’s daughter and high-profile sobriety advocate has been arrested and faces drug charges again, this time in connection with an overdose death.
Cassandra Nygren, 28, daughter of state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, was in the Brown County Jail on Wednesday on charges of first-degree reckless homicide, delivery of heroin, child neglect and maintaining a drug trafficking place.
Brown County Chief Deputy Todd Delain said Nygren and Shawn M. Gray, 33, were arrested in connection with a recent drug death. He declined to identify the person who overdosed. Investigators were still getting information to the district attorney’s office, and the two were unlikely to be charged until Thursday, Delain said. The sheriff’s office was planning a news conference for Thursday to give more information, he said.
Nygren's Facebook page says she and Gray are engaged. Court records show them as both having a Loretta Lane address in Green Bay.
Nygren had spent two years in state prison for heroin possession following a near-fatal overdose. After her release in June 2014, she became Marinette “street team coordinator” for Rise Together, a state group that tries to educate and mentor young addicts. She was featured in a front-page story about her recovery efforts in Gannett Wisconsin newspapers across the state that summer.
But she was convicted again in 2015 of drug possession. This time she was admitted to Brown County Drug Court, a program started in 2009 to help participants fight addiction through phases of treatment and supervision. It works much like probation but is stricter, with a rigid schedule of drug testing, office visits and weekly court appearances.
She became the program’s 16th defendant, and she participated successfully, attending status hearings from Sept. 22, 2015, through March 2016, when she was sent to jail for a month for an undisclosed infraction of Drug Court rules.
In June, the Drug Court team decided to terminate her participation, and her probation was revoked. She received a year’s jail time, but with controlled release privileges to work and deal with child care issues.
Gray has several drug-related convictions out of Outagamie County and is facing a Nov. 13 sentencing in Outagamie County Circuit Court on a charge of tampering with a GPS device.
John Nygren, elected in 2006 to the 89th Assembly District, has initiated several bills in recent years geared toward helping drug abuse and addicts.
In a formal statement issued Thursday, the legislator extended condolences to the family of the person who had overdosed.
"To the family and friends of the victims of this tragedy, please know that you are in our prayers and that our hearts are heavy," Nygren said in his statement.
He also talked about his daughter's struggle for several years with addition and recovery.
"This is a strong reminder of how fragile the road to recovery is," he wrote. "We will continue to support and pray for her recovery."
The "seemingly endless line" of addiction on families nationwide are the motivating factor behind legislative work being done to fight the epidemic, Nygren said.
Green Bay Press Gazette