The Sanger attorney arrested a week ago on suspicion of perjury and falsifying documents in a statewide real estate scam has filed a claim against the state of California seeking $1 million in damages for a commando-style raid on his family's home.
Sheldon Feigel, a general practice lawyer who has worked in Sanger since 1992, alleges that the state violated his freedom of unreasonable search and seizure when armed officers entered his home at 6:30 a.m. Jan. 15. He was then held all day and denied his right to speak to an attorney.
Feigel is also seeking damages for the assault and emotional distress inflicted on his three teenage children who were home during the raid.
"There was no reason for officers, dressed in full tactical combat gear, carrying loaded weapons, to force entry into the home of a family of five, who had never before been accused of committing a crime," said Mark Coleman, Feigel's attorney who submitted the claim Wednesday. The claim has to be reviewed before a lawsuit can be filed.
Feigel was one of five people from Fresno arrested by the state Department of Justice. They were accused of running a scam between 2006 and 2013 that led to the fraudulent seizure of 23 houses in nine counties, including Fresno, Madera, Merced and Tulare.
The three suspects worked with Feigel and Craig Mortensen, a Fresno attorney, to identify abandoned houses and file for adverse possession to obtain the title to the properties. Mortensen was also arrested and has not been released.
The allegations claim Feigel worked with one of the suspects to file documents on three properties. But Feigel maintains he did nothing wrong and had no reason to believe that his client's statements were untrue when the documents were filed, Coleman said.
Feigel and Mortensen are scheduled to appear in court for a pre-preliminary hearing Thursday.
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