The county assessor for Arizona's largest county was this week charged with participating in an adoption fraud program, according to an indictment of Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R).
Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen (R) Accused According to the indictment, Petersen is said to have led an adoption practice that took women from the Marshall Islands to the United States for delivery to the United States and then placed the babies for adoption in US parents.
Petersen Is Also Accused of Wrongfully Claiming Marshalline Women According to the newspaper, Arizona-based individuals are expected to use services provided by the state Medicaid system.
In addition, the County Assessor is accused of violating a contract that prevents the citizens of the Marshall Islands from coming to the US for the sole purpose of adoption, unless they have a special visa.
Petersen has been indicted in 32 cases, including conspiracy, theft, forgery and 29 cases of fraudulent activity. The investigation also included the State Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General of Utah.
The Attorney General of Utah, Sean Reyes (R), accused Petersen of the Salt Lake Tribune for 1
"While Mr. Petersen is presumed innocent, our investigation has shown evidence that he committed horrific crimes," Reyes said in a prepared statement. "Petersen's illegal adoption program has taken advantage of vulnerable groups in two countries – native mothers and families in the Marshall Islands and adoptive parents here in Utah."
The Hill has asked Petersen's office for an opinion.