Charges: Cassandra Nygren turned Green Bay charity's house into illegal drug den

GREEN BAY, Wis. - A drug felon turned a Green Bay charity’s home into a criminal drug den, according to court documents.

Cassandra Leigh Nygren was living in the home, near Mason and Bellevue streets on Green Bay's east side, according to court documents.  Nygren has an infant son.

The home is owned by Ecumenical Partnership for Housing, or EPH.  The charity owns more than a dozen other residences in or near Green Bay, used to provide free or discounted housing for homeless families.

Nygren, 28, was a drug felon when she moved into the home, based on court address records and her criminal timeline.

EPH Director Dave Pietenpol said the charity runs background checks on tenants, but would not say how those background checks are used in housing decisions.

EPH follows registered sex offender residency laws, Pietenpol said.  

Registered sex offender Shawn Michael Gray was living in the home with Nygren, which was illegal because Gray didn't report the address to authorities, according to charging paperwork.  Gray, 33, has a sexual assault of a child conviction.

The EPH home is about two blocks from an elementary school; children walk by the charity home after getting out of school.

"They've got to make sure they know who's there," Mario Jardon said of the charity as he walked his daughter home from school.

"We are supposed to know [if] people like that [are] around."

Nygren and Gray each face charges in connection with the death of 31-year-old Jennifer Skeen and Skeen's unborn baby.

Nygren and Gray provided drugs to Skeen, according to court documents.  A deadly drug mixture killed Skeen, who had enough Fentanyl in her system to kill her three times over, court documents said.  Skeen was found dead inside an Allouez home in early June.

Heroin, prescription pills, and drug paraphernalia were found in a search of the charity home used by Nygren, court document said.

“You need to start coming over here and doing more checks,” neighbor Brandon Havens said when asked if he had a message for the charity.  

“Surprise, pop-in visits."

Pietenpol declined to address the Nygren and Gray case specifically, but said the safety of tenants and surrounding neighbors is a priority for the organization.

Pietenpol said EPH conducts unannounced visits at its homes, but declined to say how often such visits are conducted.

Nygren is the daughter of State Representative John Nygren, a Republican from Marinette.

Repeated calls to Rep. Nygren's office were not returned.

Gray's attorney declined to comment.

Cassandra Nygren's attorney would only say that the situation is a tragedy for all involved.


Pietenpol, the charity director, declined an on-camera interview, but provided the following statement:

“First of all, our hearts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones, the Nygren family, and all the other families in our community who are dealing with addictions.  While we cannot speak to specific family situations due to confidentiality, our role - our mission within our community - is to walk beside homeless families on their pathway back to self-sufficiency.  In collaboration with other social service agencies, we provide safety, stability, and solutions for the families we serve.  Families become homeless for various reasons, including situations involving domestic abuse, addictions, and/or mental health challenges.  Addressing homelessness - and the root causes of homelessness - needs to be a top priority for our community.  Our children depend on it.”

 

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