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Attorney: Maricopa Assessor Petersen ‘made happy families’

Maricopa County Assessor's Office facebook photo

A lawyer for an Arizona elected official accused of running an adoption-fraud scheme is pushing back against human smuggling charges, saying his client ran a legal practice and “made happy families.”

Utah attorney Scott Williams said following a court appearance Friday that his client Paul Petersen arranged adoptions openly for 15 years between women in a Pacific Island nation and families in the U.S. He says the practice was above board, and Petersen will be exonerated.

He is fighting criminal charges in Utah and two other states alleging he paid women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. thousands of dollars to give up their babies for adoption.

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

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