MINNEAPOLIS - A 37-year-old St. Paul man faces the possibility of 30 years in prison after pleading guilty todefrauding a handful of banks.

Christopher Terrelle Harness offered the plea Monday in U.S District Court in Minneapolis. He admitted guilt in one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Proseuctors say Harness admitted that from October 2007 through July 2012, he obtained money from banks by depositing checks that weredrawn on the accounts of other individuals, checks thathe knew were either stolen or not backed by sufficient funds.

Investigators say Harness and his associates deposited thosechecks into fraudulently opened bank accounts in order to deceive the banks into honoring ATM withdrawals from those bogus accounts.

Harness also admitted that he and others stole checks from other individuals and forged those individuals' signatures on the stolen checks. After the stolen checks were deposited into ATMs andcash was withdrawn. In total, the victimized institutions sustained approximate losses of between $30,000 and $400,000.

For his crimes, Harness faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on the bank fraud count, and a mandatory minimum penalty of two years on the aggravated identity
theft count.

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