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Former Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen sentenced to 5 additional years in prison

Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 19, 2021

PHOENIX, Ariz. — A judge has sentenced former Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen to 5 additional years in prison for fraud convictions stemming from his operation of an illegal adoption scheme in three states involving women from the Marshall Islands.

Petersen, who is serving a 6-year federal prison sentence for an Arkansas conviction, was sentenced by an Arizona judge Friday. The 5 additional years of prison time will be served in an Arizona corrections facility following his federal sentence, bringing Petersen's total prison sentencing so far to 11 years.

He pleaded guilty to multiple charges in Arizona, Arkansas, and Utah, as part of various plea agreements related to his alleged adoption fraud scheme.

“It doesn't matter who you are, no one is above the law,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Paul Petersen violated the public's trust and defrauded taxpayers. Today he was held accountable."

Authorities said Petersen arranged adoptions from the Marshall Islands for over a decade and would charge adoptive families around $35,000 per adoption.

As part of his plea agreement, Petersen will be required to pay $650,000 in restitution to Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's Medicaid agency, $11,000 to an uncharged victim, and $18,000 to the Attorney General's office to cover the investigative costs.

Petersen resigned as the Maricopa County Assessor in early 2020. Prior to that, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted to suspend him.

He is expected to appear for sentencing in a separate Utah case related to human trafficking.

FULL COVERAGE: Petersen Adoption Scheme