GOP official indicted for human smuggling and sale of children in bizarre international fraud scheme

Raw Story 2 months ago

On Wednesday, NBC News reported that Maricopa County assessor Paul Petersen has been indicted on 11 counts, including human smuggling and sale of a child, as part of a far-reaching international adoption fraud scheme.

Petersen, according to prosecutors, transported some 40 pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to Utah to give birth, and proceeded to sell the babies to U.S. families for $40,000. He also is accused of fraudulently billing Medicaid for the prenatal costs, by claiming the Marshallese women were residents of Arizona.

A Republican, Peterson was first appointed to the position of Maricopa County assessor in 2013 after serving as the office’s liaison to the legislature, and won a regularly scheduled election unopposed in 2016.

His adoption law practice first came under scrutiny by the Honolulu Civil Beat in 2018. He was taken into custody by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Investigations, and officials from the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

“While Mr. Petersen is entitled to a presumption of innocence, our investigation uncovered evidence that he has committed horrible crimes,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Petersen’s illegal adoption scheme exploited highly vulnerable groups in two countries — the birth mothers and families in the Marshall Islands and the adoptive parents here in Utah.”


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ABC News › Incident › 1 month ago
An elected official in metro Phoenix has pleaded not guilty to fraud and theft charges stemming from an alleged human smuggling scheme involving pregnant women from the Marshall Islands who were brought to the U.S. to give birth for adoptions
The New York Times › 1 month ago
A lawyer for an elected official in metro Phoenix charged with running a human smuggling scheme involving pregnant women from the Marshall Islands says Tuesday that his client is willing to go to court to challenge other officials who suspended him...
USA Today › 2 months ago
An Arizona elected official has been accused of human smuggling in an adoption fraud scheme that brought dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. to give up their children for adoption. (Oct. 9)
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Two Russian nationals have been indicted on bank fraud and international computer hacking charges over an alleged decade-long scheme, according to DOJ.
CNN › 2 months ago
An Arizona county assessor is accused of human smuggling as part of a scheme that involved more than 40 pregnant women from the Marshall Islands brought to the United States to give up their babies for adoption, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
The Boston Globe › 2 months ago
The assessor of Arizona’s most populous county has been accused of human smuggling in an adoption fraud scheme that brought dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. to give up their children for adoption, court records show.
Fox News › 1 month ago
A defiant Arizona elected official charged with running a human smuggling scheme involving pregnant women from the Marshall Islands has pleaded not guilty and plans to go to court to challenge his work suspension.
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New York Daily News › Incident › 2 months ago
An Arizona county assessor was indicted Tuesday for allegedly smuggling dozens of pregnant women into the United States.
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