A federal grand jury has indicted the founder of a once-booming Indiana collection agency on felony bank fraud, wire fraud and bankruptcy card charges.
Todd Wolfe, 53, founded Deca Financial in Fishers, Ind., just north of Indianapolis, in 2009. The agency collected on delinquent loans for student loans, health care and other financial services before Wolfe was preliminarily charged in late 2014.
The indictment comes after charges alleging Wolfe filed false financial reports with BMO Harris Bank that inflated the value of the company to obtain large credit lines. He was charged with using the proceeds from the business loan on his home, a sports car, personal credit cards and a lake house. The indictment likely means prosecutors were unable to work out a plea agreement.
Wolfe's arrest in November 2014 came about nine months after creditors, to whom Deca owes more than $17 million, forced the company into involuntary bankruptcy. A bankruptcy judge in April 2014 approved a motion to wind down operations at Deca and liquidate the firm to repay creditors. Court filings by an attorney for Wolfe and his company indicated that Wolfe's living trust was worth more than $14 million, which could be used to repay creditors. Investigators with the U.S. attorney's office allege the actual value of the trust was $52,000.
Just four years old when the operation began to unravel, Deca previously was celebrated in Inc. magazine as one of the nation's fastest-growing companies. But then the problems began to mount. Wolfe said the company was mismanaged by the people he left in charge while he was undergoing stomach cancer treatment. He returned to work full time in December 2013 but Deca's financial problems by then had hit a critical point when BMO Harris declared the company in default and froze its accounts.
Among other problems Deca had been facing:
• A fraud allegation against Wolfe, who is an 80% owner of Deca. In court testimony earlier this year, a former executive accused Wolfe of diverting $2.1 million in company money last year into his personal account with no explanation.
• Misstated earnings. Just days before BMO Harris began a special audit of Deca's books, Deca restated its profit-and-loss statement for 11 months of 2013 to change a profit of $9 million into a loss of $5.8 million, according to a judge’s findings.
• Reported misuse of client money. Deca general counsel Dustin Stohler admitted to a judge in February that Deca used $557,000 in returned money from its frozen bank accounts to meet its own payroll, rather than returning most of the money, which came largely from collections, to customers.
• A partner of the accounting firm Sikich LLC, which audited Deca's books, testified that Deca's 2011 and 2012 financial statements given to BMO Harris bore Sikich’s name but weren’t actually prepared by the Naperville, Ill., firm.
The government’s investigation was conducted by the FBI and the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee.