Petersen Employee Takes Plea Deal; Supervisors Hold Off On Suspension Appeal Vote

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 5:03pm
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Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Paul Petersen

The Marshallese woman prosecutors say helped embattled Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen run an illegal adoption scam has taken a plea deal.

Lynwood Jennet has agreed to testify against the suspended Petersen, should he go on trial on charges he defrauded the state’s Medicaid system.

“We are very confident that she will provide the testimony that we need, when we need it,” said Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General.

Court documents say Jennet carried out Petersen’s orders to get pregnant Marshallese women illegal access to Medicaid. Jennet faced dozens of charges in two cases. She pleaded guilty to four felonies.

Now Jennet owes nearly $1 million in fines, and faces up to 4 years in prison. She’ll be on house arrest until March.

Lawyers for Jennet declined to comment on the plea deal.

Petersen’s criminal defense attorney, Kurt Altman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is unlikely to decide whether to lift Petersen’s suspension until after Christmas. Petersen was told to stay home for 120 days for neglect of duty, following his arrest in connection with allegations he ran an illegal adoption scam.

The Board met behind closed doors Thursday, but did not vote on whether to let Petersen come back early to the Assessor’s office.

“They want to make sure they have all the evidence that’s been collected by the group of attorneys that’s working on this, and that is not ready yet,” said Fields Moseley, Maricopa County communications director.

The Board met with outside lawyers working on the investigation of Petersen. Initial results of the probe said Petersen would not turn in his laptop.

The Attorney General’s Office only got it with a search warrant. 

“The delay in the final report is the fact that we didn’t get the laptop, or a mirror image of the laptop, from the AG’s office until December 10th,” said Moseley.

Another lawyer for Petersen has threatened to sue if the suspension is not lifted. Kory Langhofer said he will not wait forever for the Board to vote on Petersen’s appeal.

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