DECA Financial Services, an Indiana consumer debt collection firm previously lauded by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing U.S. companies, is now facing serious debt problems of its own.

The four-year-old agency avoided an attempt to have a court trustee assume oversight of the company by convincing creditors to support a $17.5 million refinancing and payback plan. DECA officials stated that if the rescue plan isn’t solidified by March 17, the court will appoint a trustee to run the company under a Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy. DECA has laid off at least 20 percent of its workforce in recent months and is down to 79 people, a DECA executive said last month. The company is located in Fishers, Ind., just north of Indianapolis.

DECA’s financial troubles hit a critical point late last year when its main bank, BMO Harris, declared DECA in default on a loan and froze its accounts and the personal account of its owner and CEO, Todd Wolfe. BMO lifted the freeze Dec. 24 but reimposed it on Dec. 30, demanding numerous records and another audit of DECA’s books, according to court filings.

DECA sued BMO in January in Hamilton (Ind.) Superior Court, calling the bank’s conduct "malicious" and arguing that the freeze disrupted company operations and caused the company and Wolfe to bounce checks and lose customers.

Wolfe said the company was mismanaged by the people he left in charge while he was undergoing stomach cancer treatment over the past two years, The Indianapolis Star reported. Wolfe returned to work full time in December.

Other problems for the company include:  

• Reported misuse of client money. DECA general counsel Dustin Stohler admitted to a judge last month 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 fraud allegation against Wolfe, who is an 80 percent owner of DECA. In court testimony last month, 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 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.

• 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 bank bore Sikich’s name but weren’t actually prepared by the Naperville, Ill., firm.

DECA’s new financing plan was quickly drawn up with creditor attorneys in federal court in Indianapolis on Wednesday. The plan calls for paying off more than $10 million in loans owed to BMO and more than $500,000 owed to creditors involved in the involuntary bankruptcy petition, a company attorney told Judge Robyn Moberly.

DECA also said it’s closing on a new $11.5 million loan from an unnamed lender and it will raise several million dollars more by selling the land under its new headquarters building in Fishers, which is located just north of Indianapolis. The land is owned by a separate corporation controlled by Wolfe.

In 2012, DECA received accolades from Indiana officials and economic incentives for a headquarters expansion.

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