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Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen posts bond, released from Arkansas jail

Posted: 3:55 PM, Oct 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-05 11:02:32-05
Paul Petersen
Paul Petersen

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen has been released from jail in Arkansas, according to jail officials.

On Tuesday, Petersen appeared in federal court and pleaded not guilty to all charges in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Petersen is facing federal charges and charges in three states related to an international adoption ring he allegedly operated, stemming from the Marshall Islands.

On Wednesday, an ABC15 crew caught up with Petersen at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport as he and his wife were heading back to Phoenix. Petersen's only comment was that he is happy to be heading home to be with his family and kids on Halloween.

Charges in Arizona, Arkansas and Utah include human smuggling, sale of a child, fraud, forgery, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

FULL SECTION: Paul Petersen Adoption Fraud Scheme

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Duane "Dak" Kees says during that federal trial, Petersen is expected to face four of the Marshallese women who were brought into the United States to deliver babies that were then sold to other families.

Investigators say Petersen was instructing the expecting mothers to lie to customs when they got to the United States and to say they were not here for adoption, they were here for other reasons.

A spokesperson for the Maricopa Board of Supervisors says Petersen's badge to access county buildings has been deactivated after the board voted to suspend him.

"Since the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors suspended Assessor Paul Petersen, his badge granting him access to county buildings and offices has been deactivated. He will not have access to the Assessor’s Suite or his office, but will have the same access to the building as any other member of the public."

Bill Wiley, the executive consultant for the city of Phoenix' Street Transportation Department and the former director of the Maricopa County Flood Control District will take over as administrator of the County Assessor's Office.

Wiley will fill in for the duration of Assessor Paul Petersen's 120-day suspension. He will earn near double the salary Petersen earns.

State law sets the salaries for elected officials. Wiley will get paid the rate the County pays senior administrators. He'll earn nearly $50,000 dollars for his four months of work.

Wiley will step down from his city job and begin working in the assessor's office immediately.