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ST. LOUIS — The former director of human resources for a St. Louis area company pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge Wednesday and admitted embezzling more than $1.8 million.

During a hearing in front of U.S. District Court Judge Henry Autrey, Nicole M. Scott, 42, admitted that for a decade beginning in January 2009, she manipulated the company's payroll system to generate payments to terminated employees. Scott had already changed the direct deposit information for those employees so that the money went into her personal bank account.

In all, the unnamed company lost $1.9 million, including taxes it owed on the money.

Scott used the money for her mortgage payments, for living expenses and to pay for clothing and accessories, prosecutors said.

At her sentencing hearing in January, she could face roughly five years in prison, and will have to repay the money. She started doing that Wednesday, handing the FBI a $200,000 check before the hearing, according to court testimony.

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