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Crime What to know about indicted Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen

17:50  09 october  2019
17:50  09 october  2019 Source:   azcentral.com

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Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen has been indicted on fraud charges related to his law office adoption services involving Marshallese women. Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen accused of adoption fraud. Paul Petersen leaves Maricopa County Superior Court with his attorney

The private law office of Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen makes clear what his practice is all about: helping to facilitate private adoptions that can take place "without direct involvement'' of a third party, such as an adoption agency or the state. Petersen is in his second term as assessor .

The private law office of Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen makes clear what his practice is all about: helping to facilitate private adoptions that can take place "without direct involvement'' of a third party, such as an adoption agency or the state.

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Assessor Paul Petersen is challenging his suspension from his elected position while he faces felony charges related to an alleged adoption scheme. Share This Story! Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about.

WHAT TO KNOW : Maricopa County Assessor and his adoption-law practice. County audit released. FAILED ADOPTIONS: How Paul Petersen disappointed an adoptive family 3 times. Charges against Petersen . Petersen was arrested in Arizona after a state grand jury indicted him on

Petersen is in his second term as assessor. He won a special election in 2014 to replace Keith Russell and was reelected in 2016. His biography on the assessor's website makes clear that he "continues to practice law from his Mesa-based law office, and his law practice remains committed to helping people all across the country in their effort to adopt children.''

On Tuesday, the Arizona Attorney General's Office announced Petersen had been indicted in an adoption fraud scheme that involves women from the Marshall Islands brought to the U.S. to give birth. Their babies then are adopted out to U.S. parents.

Petersen is accused of illegally obtaining services from Arizona's Medicaid system for the women, falsely claiming the women are Arizona residents. He also is accused of violating a compact between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands. It prohibits citizens of that country to come to the U.S. if their travel is for the purpose of adoption, unless they have a special visa.

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On Tuesday night, Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen was arrested after a state grand jury indicted him on 32 counts of fraudulent schemes, conspiracy, theft and forgery. The Arizona Attorney General's Office alleges Petersen illegally arranged for 28 pregnant women from the Republic of the

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.

INDICTED: Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen accused of adoption fraud

On Petersen's law office website, an unsigned blog post dated Feb. 2, 2018, talks about adoption and the Marshall Islands, under the headline "Widening Family Circles: The unique beauty of Marshallese tradition.''

Here is a closer look at Petersen's background and law practice:

Deep Arizona roots, based in Mesa

Petersen's bio says he is a fifth-generation Arizonan whose family traces its roots back to territorial days. He's a lifelong resident of Mesa, where he lives with his wife and four children.

Petersen earned an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and in 2002 earned his law degree from ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law.

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An Arizona adoption lawyer and county assessor was arrested Tuesday night on charges of fraud and conspiracy related to illegal adoptions, authorities say. This undated photo provided by the Maricopa County Assessor 's Office shows Assessor Paul Petersen , who has been indicted in an adoption

While Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen was running a multimillion-dollar adoption law firm, he spent little time at his government job. Share This Story! Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about.

Petersen's law practice has focused on adoption for about 15 years, but before winning the special election in 2014, he worked in the Assessor's Office as its representative at the state Legislature and as public information officer. He is a Republican who has been active in party politics for years.

How his adoption law practice works

Petersen's law practice is based in Mesa. He practices in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas, according to his website. It describes the firm as "a dedicated law practice focused on family formation through adoption.''

The site also says Petersen is general counsel for Bright Start Adoptions, an agency with offices in Mesa and Tucson.

The site includes several client testimonials for his private adoption work and notes that the cost for his services can range from $30,000 to $40,000 for a single adoption.

A notable blog post talks about "Marshallese Tradition,'' and what it calls the cultural differences between adoption in the United States and the Marshall Islands.

"What American society calls adoption is mostly legalistic, and formal. The act of adoption among Marshallese creates a kinship, a bond, between birth and adoptive parents,'' the blog says.

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Maricopa county assessor Paul Petersen facing 11 felony charges including sale of a child, over alleged adoption scheme involving women from YouTube / www.privateadoptionlaw.com. Phoenix, Arizona — The assessor of Arizona's largest county has been indicted in connection with 11 felony

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will decide Monday whether to suspend Assessor Paul Petersen without pay for "neglect of duty." Petersen faces felony charges in three states for allegedly running an illegal, international adoption scheme in his private-sector job as an adoption attorney.

It goes on to describe a "shared connection'' to the child between birth and adoptive parents.

"Traditional Marshallese adoptions do not include total denial of parental rights. Birth parents continue to have a relationship with their child. And their biological connection is known. No stigma is connected to the child, and the child is considered shared among both parents."

The blog adds, "Unlike American adoptions, in the Marshall Islands being adopted means you have an additional set of parents. Yes, bonus parents, rather than the exchange of parents."

The blog goes on to explain how the firm believes such "open adoptions are the most rewarding'' for all parties involved.

"Paul lived in the Marshall Islands and came to understand the beauty in the sense of community there. Returning to the U.S., he wanted to build families and blend the strengths of both cultures’ adoption practices.''

Petersen's law office website says he has many resources and contacts in Arizona, Arkansas and Utah that have helped him in his practice identify birth parents and match them with a couple or individual looking to adopt.

The website notes that 45 states have laws allowing private adoption arrangements.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: What to know about indicted Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen

What happens to the Marshall Islands women in the Paul Petersen case? .
State troopers found eight pregnant women in a cramped Mesa residence owned by Paul Petersen on Oct. 8. It appears they have stayed put.Petersen now is in federal custody after initially being booked into a Maricopa County jail.

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