A mortgage-fraud indictment involving multimillion dollar Provo homes has yielded a third guilty plea in federal court.

Steven Wells Cloward, a license real estate appraiser, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud Monday in U.S. District Court. In return, prosecutors agreed to drop 18 other counts in the indictment.

Cloward, 40, of Orem, faces up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors recommended that Judge Ted Stewart sentence him at the lower end of the scale.

Last month, Bradley Grant Kitchen and David R. Bolick entered guilty pleas to the same charge and under the same conditions as Cloward did. All three await sentencing.

The men were among six people accused of conspiring to secure a series of fraudulent loans on properties for which they greatly inflated the market values with false appraisals. Proceeds from the loans obtained through straw buyers totaling at least $18 million were diverted to participants in the scam.

Cloward admitted to falsifying appraisals and financial documents to bump up home prices in the ritzy Provo Riverbottoms neighborhood.

Two other defendants — Ron K. Clarke and Jeffery David Garrett — are scheduled to go to trial Wednesday. Charges against the sixth defendant were dropped.