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by CareyBot

A Eugene, Ore., mortgage loan officer faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to falsely reporting three clients as employees at his girlfriend’s used-clothing store in order to qualify them for loans.

Mark Todd Harless, 40, reported on loan applications submitted to lenders that each earned at least $3,000 a month at the store, and had worked there for at least two years, according to an October 2006 indictment. In fact, prosecutors said, none of the clients worked at the store.

Prosecutors said that Harless arranged for someone at the store to verify that his clients did work there, on one occasion charging a customer $200 for the use of false employment and earnings information. The loans were approved, and Harless earned commissions on them, prosecutors said.

Harless, who was employed as a loan officer at Allegiance Mortgage Co. from January through April 2005, pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of wire fraud. Wire fraud is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Harless is scheduled to be sentenced July 31 by U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the state Division of Finance & Corporate Securities investigated the case, which was prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon.