Luxurious LifeStyle – Ex-Maricopa County Assessor To Be Sentenced In Adoption Scheme
PHOENIX — U.S. prosecutors in Arkansas will search a 10-year jail sentence for a former Arizona politician who acknowledged working an unlawful adoption scheme in three states involving girls from the Marshall Islands.
Prosecutors say Paul Petersen defrauded state courts, violated a global adoption compact and took benefit of moms and adoptive households for his personal revenue.
Petersen, a Republican who served as Maricopa County Assessor for six years and likewise labored as an adoption legal professional, was accused of working a scheme during which beginning moms had their passports taken to maintain them from leaving the US and have been threatened with arrest in the event that they tried to again out of adoptions. They have been poor, didn’t communicate English and have been dwelling 6,000 miles from house, prosecutors stated.
“These circumstances prevented their escape as securely as if they were chained to a wall,” prosecutors wrote, noting 4 beginning moms expressed doubts about their adoptions however went ahead with them anyway as a result of the ladies weren’t allowed to return house.
Delivery moms have been paid far lower than promised, and the cash Petersen made helped pay for his lavish life-style, together with costly journeys, luxurious automobiles and a number of residences, prosecutors stated.
Petersen’s attorneys disputed that their shopper had any half in protecting a number of the moms’ passports.
Officers stated Petersen illegally paid girls from the Pacific island nation to come back to the US and quit their infants in not less than 70 adoptions instances in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas over three years. Residents of the Marshall Islands have been banned from touring to the U.S. for adoption functions since 2003 as a part of an ant-exploitation treaty.
Petersen is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 1 in Arkansas for his federal conviction for conspiring to commit human smuggling. He additionally faces sentencing in January in Arizona and Utah.
In Arizona, prosecutors are in search of an 18-year jail time period for fraud convictions for submitting false purposes to Arizona’s Medicaid system for the moms to obtain state-funded well being protection — though he knew they didn’t dwell within the state — and for offering paperwork to a county juvenile court docket that contained false info.
His sentencing in Arizona is scheduled for Jan. 22. His sentencing in Utah, the place he may resist 15 years in jail for human smuggling and different convictions, is scheduled for Jan. 20.
Prosecutors and protection legal professionals have agreed to permit Petersen to serve all three sentences without delay.
Petersen’s legal professional, Kurt Altman, denied his shopper coerced the beginning moms and stated they voluntarily participated within the adoptions.
Altman stated a girl who additionally pleaded responsible to serving to beginning moms get Medicaid advantages informed authorities that she saved the passports of some beginning moms, however by no means claimed Petersen knew something about it.
Whereas Petersen beforehand proclaimed his innocence, he acknowledged in a letter to the Arkansas choose that he had violated the regulation and was ready to pay his debt to society.
“Unfortunately, I crossed that line and must accept the consequences of my actions,” Petersen wrote, apologizing to any mom whom he handled poorly.
Nonetheless, he claimed to have carried out lots of of authorized adoptions after discovering a distinct segment finding houses for weak youngsters from the Marshall Islands and serving to needy moms who needed a extra steady household life for his or her youngsters. Petersen additionally stated he was ashamed, as a fiscal conservative, for sticking Arizona taxpayers with the labor and supply prices. He has since paid again $670,000 to the state.
Petersen fought to get his job as assessor again after he was suspended a yr in the past, although he was unsuccessful.
His plea in court docket papers for leniency was accompanied by letters of assist from some adoptive households.
Earlier in his life, Petersen, who’s a member of The Church of Jesus Christs of Latter-day Saints, had accomplished a proselytizing mission within the Marshall Islands.
The church has distanced itself from Petersen, with LDS Apostle Ronald Rasband telling the Arizona Republic in November 2019 that the church is “simply as disgusted with it as anyone.”