Los Angeles Times

Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti tested legal boundaries as his firm maneuvered into bankruptcy

Michael Avenatti was caught in a downward spiral of financial trouble last year when Jerry Tobin, an unlikely savior, came to the rescue.

Tobin, who has a long arrest record and sports a Mohawk in his mug shots, showed up at a UPS Store in Orlando, Fla., put down two 100-dollar bills and rented a mailbox.

The next day, using his new anonymous address, Tobin filed a court petition to force Avenatti's Newport Beach law firm into bankruptcy. The firm, Eagan Avenatti, owed him $28,700, Tobin claimed.

It was just what Avenatti needed, exactly when he needed it.

The bankruptcy triggered an automatic halt to a nasty, high-stakes arbitration between Avenatti's firm and Jason Frank, a lawyer who used to work there. If Eagan Avenatti were to lose, it could be forced to pay Frank more than $14 million.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Karen Jennemann immediately questioned whether Eagan Avenatti was colluding with Tobin on a bad-faith bankruptcy aimed at

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