A former Forcht Bank loan officer accused of pocketing $281,000 from more than 40 loan customers and threatening people who signed complaints against him is scheduled to enter a plea agreement Thursday in U.S. District Court in London.

According to FBI agents, Ben C. Johnson took the money between October 2007 and June 2008 by writing loans for more than the customers requested, pocketing down payments and using customers’ information to secure loans.

Forcht Bank officials discovered surveillance video that reportedly shows Johnson writing loans for more than the customer had requested and then cutting a cashier’s check for the difference.

Armed with this information, bank officials contacted the FBI. Special Agent James Walsh said several of the victims said Johnson contacted them, asking them not to sign an affidavit against him and promising to repay the money in return.

“He made threats against the customers that did sign,” Walsh testified at Johnson’s detention hearing. “Mr. Johnson said he was aware of the list of people that signed affidavits against him and before he would go to jail, that he would take them all to hell with him.”

Johnson was indicted for embezzlement in September. The case was initially set to go to trial on Dec. 2. It was continued until Jan. 20, but that date was continued when the notice to enter a plea agreement was filed with the court.

Staff writer Dean Manning may be reached at dmanning@sentinel-echo.com,

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