Maricopa County Assessor Suspended During Adoption Scheme Investigation

Oct 29, 2019

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has suspended an elected official accused of running a human smuggling scheme involving pregnant women from the Marshall Islands brought to the U.S. to give birth for adoptions. The board voted unanimously Monday to suspend Assessor Paul D. Petersen without pay for up to 120 days.


Board members lack the authority to permanently remove Petersen from his office that determines the value of properties for tax purposes in the metro Phoenix area.

Authorities say Petersen illegally paid women from the Marshall Islands to have their babies in the United States and give them up for adoption.

He's facing charges in Arizona, Arkansas and Utah including human smuggling, sale of a child, fraud, forgery and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Petersen's attorney has said his client's adoption business did not break the law.