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Paul Petersen pleads not guilty in court amid adoption fraud scheme

Posted at 8:59 AM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 21:40:18-05

PHOENIX — Paul Petersen, the suspended Maricopa County Assessor involved in a multi-state adoption fraud scheme, pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday morning.

Petersen appeared in front of a judge for his arraignment hearing around 9 a.m., pleading not guilty to charges including conspiracy, fraudulent schemes and artifices, forgery, theft, and fraudulent schemes and practices.

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

Last month, he appeared in federal court and pleaded not guilty to all charges in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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.

FULL COVERAGE: Paul Petersen adoption fraud scheme