State News

Drug overdoses separately affect the lives of two prominent state politicians

State Rep. John Nygren’s daughter and a former executive director of Wisconsin’s Democrat Party face legal punishment for connection to two separate overdose deaths.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

The daughter of a leader in the state Assembly, as well as a former state Democratic Party chair, are separately facing legal trouble surrounding their relationship to victims of fatal opioid overdoses.

Cassandra Nygren, daughter of John Nygren, R-Marinette, and a leader on policy solutions to the state’s opioid crisis, was held in the Brown County Jail Wednesday.

The younger Nygren and her fiance were arrested in relation to an unnamed person who died from overdosing. It’s expected she will face charges of first-degree reckless homicide, delivery of heroin, child neglect and maintenance of a drug trafficking place.

Cassandra Nygren has had trouble with addiction in the past, inspiring her father’s Heroin Opioid Prevention and Education initiative to support Wisconsin families and help addicts overcome their addiction.

"There are no words that we as a family can offer to give any real comfort for the tragic loss," John Nygren said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “This is just another example, in a seemingly endless line, of the disastrous and destructive consequences addiction continues to have on families and communities nationwide.”

“These stories are the motivating factor behind all our work in the Legislature to fight this epidemic," Nygren added.

In a different case, a former executive director of Wisconsin’s Democratic Party may be arrested after a warrant was filed following the death of a woman who overdosed in his home.

The search warrant was issued for Jason T. Sidener on October 10th, about a month after thirty-year-old Monique E. Allen died.

According to the warrant, Sidener brought Allen to the St. Mary’s Hospital emergency room on Sept. 12 around 6 a.m. claiming that he woke up to find her “breathing really weird.” Sidener added that she may have been using heroin at his home the night before in Fitchburg.

Allen was found dead upon arrival to the hospital. Her autopsy determined the cause of death to be from a drug overdose. Further toxicology tests found heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and fentanyl analog in her system.

Sidener remains at large. The Fitchburg Police Department is currently searching his home, car and cell phone records with the intention to determine how Allen received the drugs that caused her death.

Police found crack cocaine, a notebook filled with names and dollar amounts, and drug paraphernalia, including pipes, digital scales, baggie corners and needles in Sidener’s house and car.

Current Wisconsin law states it is illegal to provide a person with any class A substance and an overdose caused by that substance is punishable by a maximum felony charge of 40 years in prison.

Gov. Scott Walker offered prayers Wednesday for those affected by these two cases and by addiction in general. 

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