Woman collapses in Fresno courthouse, later dies

Stacey Feigel, 48, was attending a hearing for her husband who faces charges in an alleged real estate scam

The Fresno BeeJanuary 31, 2014 

A woman whose husband had a hearing Friday in an alleged real estate scheme collapsed in Fresno County Superior Court and later died.

Stacey Feigel, 48, of Sanger, wife of lawyer Sheldon Feigel, 50, who is implicated in the case, apparently had a "cardiac event," said Fresno County Coroner David Hadden.

Stacey Feigel was going through security on the first floor of the courthouse when she collapsed, officials said. The couple have five children and were married more than 26 years.

Fresno attorney Mark Coleman said Stacey Feigel was with her husband when she collapsed about 9 a.m. She was taken to Community Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead, he said.

Stacey Feigel appeared fit and healthy and jogged regularly, he said. But she also has been stressed by her husband's arrest and the commando-style raid on her home when three of their children were present, Coleman said.

Investigators, with guns drawn, entered their home while family members were sleeping or just waking up, Coleman said.

"For Chrissakes, the family had never been in trouble before but police pointed guns at the kids' heads," he said.

The Sanger attorney was arrested on suspicion of perjury and falsifying documents in a statewide real estate scam. He has filed a claim against the state of California seeking $1 million in damages for the raid on his family's home.

His claim alleges that armed officers violated his freedom of unreasonable search and seizure when they entered his home at 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 15. He was then held all day and denied his right to speak to a lawyer.

The Feigels also are seeking damages for the assault and emotional distress inflicted on his three teenage children who were home at the time.

Sheldon Feigel, who has practiced law in Sanger for 22 years, recently passed a lie detector test, Coleman said, and looks forward to clearing his name.

His court hearing was continued to Feb. 27. He remains free on $150,000 bond.

Sheldon Feigel was in court for a hearing about his alleged part in a statewide scheme that led to fraudulent seizure of 23 houses in nine counties, according to the California Attorney General's Office.

The investigation led to the arrests of Sandra Elaine Barton, 30, Christopher Spencer Barton, 31, Cambria Lisa Barton, 21, Daniel Paul Vedenoff, 29, Feigel, and Craig Merrill Mortensen, 60. Mortensen also is a lawyer.

They were charged with felony counts including perjury, filing false court records and preparing false evidence.

The Barton family, along with Vedenoff, Sandra Barton's boyfriend, allegedly worked with Feigel and Mortensen to identify abandoned houses and file for adverse possession of the property to obtain title, according to a complaint filed in Fresno County Superior Court.

The Barton family and their attorneys allegedly provided fraudulent statements in court between 2006 and 2013 to obtain at least 23 homes in Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Madera, Merced, Santa Barbara, San Mateo, Sonoma and Tulare counties, the complaint said.

The reporters can be reached at (559) 441-6330, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or plopez@fresnobee.com.

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