Paul Petersen Pleads Guilty In Arkansas

Published: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 2:35pm
Updated: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 2:45pm
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Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Paul Petersen

Paul Petersen has now pleaded guilty in all three U.S. states where he was charged with crimes in connection with running an illegal adoption scam.

On Wednesday, the former Maricopa County assessor admitted in Arkansas federal court that he conspired to smuggle illegal immigrants for profit. The illegal immigrants were pregnant women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Court records say Petersen brought them to Arkansas to give birth, and have U.S. families adopt their children.

Those actions broke an international compact that largely allows free travel between the countries. The deal was changed in 2003 to stop exploitation of Marshallese women, and it blocked them from entering the U.S. for the purpose of adoption.

Petersen has also pleaded guilty to human smuggling, fraud and forgery charges in Utah and Arizona. His lawyer has said that he expects Petersen to get a sentence of between 3 and 15 years in prison.  

Petersen was arrested last October and resigned the job of county assessor in January.

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