Officials: Adoptions In Arizona Trafficking Scheme Won't Be Undone

Oct 10, 2019

Officials in three states say they will not try to interfere with dozens of adoptions done as part of a human smuggling scheme that led to charges against Maricopa County Assessor Paul D. Petersen.

This undated photo provided by the Maricopa County Assessor's Office shows Assessor Paul Petersen. Petersen has been indicted in an adoption fraud case, accused of arranging for dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to come to the U.S. to give their children up for adoption. Utah also has charged him on multiple felony counts, including human smuggling, sale of a child and communications fraud.
Credit (Maricopa County Assessor's Office via AP)

Prosecutors in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas say they consider the adoptive parents to be victims in the scheme along with the biological mothers who were brought from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. to give birth and hand over their babies.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says the focus of the case is on the abuse of the system by Petersen. Authorities allege Petersen has for years run an adoption law practice in Mesa.

Petersen's attorney, Matthew Long, defended his client's actions during a court hearing in Phoenix Wednesday.  He said Petersen engaged in what he called "proper business practices."