Rumors gripped the Los Angeles legal community today after the shocking fatal shooting Monday, in posh Rolling Hills Estates, of attorney Jeffrey A. Tidus. He was killed just hours after top executives at a firm Tidus represented, New Century Financial, were accused of fraud by federal regulators.

The bizarre timing has powerful attorneys in Los Angeles buzzing about why and how Tidus died. Initially, the Los Angeles County Sheriff released such vague information that suicide was left open as a strong possibility. That appeared to change somewhat today, and here's why:

According to the Metropolitian News-Enterprise legal newspaper, Tidus's death “is being investigated as suspicious” but has not yet been ruled homicide. Police are staying mum on whether the gun was found near the body.

One friend of Tidus' told the Weekly that he was a very successful, very busy litigator who had gotten “more and more involved in banking and financial” cases. The Berkeley law grad listed as his clients Hawthorne Savings, California Federal Savings, Aames Financial, First Alliance Mortgage Company, First Los Angeles Bank, Tokai Bank — and the failed subprime mortgage lender New Century Financial.

New Century has been in the news as yet another disastrous example of overextended financial firms slammed by the recession and the 2008 implosion on Wall Street. 

Tidus was discovered by his wife about 8:30 pm on Monday, after she heard a single gunshot. She found him slumped behind a Prius outside their home in the 4600 block of Sugarhill Drive in Rolling Hills Estates, a leafty suburb of Los Angeles in which violent crime is rare and horse trails crisscross the pricey estates and neighborhoods.

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