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Crime Arizona official charged with human smuggling after bringing more than 40 pregnant woman to the US

09:20  10 october  2019
09:20  10 october  2019 Source:   foxnews.com

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Petersen is accused of transporting more than 40 pregnant Marshall Islands women into Utah during the past three years as part of the scheme, the He served nearly eight years as the assessor's office representative to the Arizona Legislature and as the agency's public information officer.

The Utah attorney general alleged that Petersen recruited more than 40 pregnant women from the Marshall Islands over the past three years and According to the report, Petersen arranges and pays for pregnant Marshallese women to fly to Utah and live in a four-bedroom house he owns outside of

An Arizona elected official is facing dozens of charges in three states in connection with a multimillion-dollar adoption scheme in which he allegedly smuggled more than 40 women into the U.S. from the Marshall Islands, promising them money in exchange for their babies.

Arizona official charged with human smuggling after bringing more than 40 pregnant woman to the US© Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP Arizona official charged with human smuggling after bringing more than 40 pregnant woman to the US

Authorities believe Paul Peterson, an adoption lawyer and Maricopa County Assessor was the head of a smuggling ring that allegedly recruited Marshallese women "and offered a significant amount of money to place their babies for adoption in Utah," state Attorney General Sean Reyes told reporters Wednesday.

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The assessor of Arizona 's largest county has been indicted in connection with 11 felony offenses, including human smuggling , sale of a "Petersen is alleged to have run an illegal adoption scheme where he recruited, transported, and offered payment to pregnant Marshallese women to give their

Arizona Official Smuggled Pregnant Women Into the U . S . and Paid Them to Give Up Their An Arizona official faces charges in two states for his alleged role in an international adoption fraud It is not immediately clear what connection Petersen has to the property. “ We are thinking of the birth

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Peterson is charged with 11 second and third-degree felonies in Utah, including human smuggling, sale of a child, communications fraud and pattern of unlawful activity, Reyes said.

"The commercialization of children is illegal and the commoditization of children is simply evil," Reyes said.

Reyes said his office's investigation began after investigators got a call to a human-trafficking tip line in October 2017. Staff at several hospitals in the Salt Lake City area would eventually report an "influx" of women from the Marshall Islands giving birth and putting their babies up for adoption, often accompanied by the same woman.

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PHOENIX, AZ (KPHO/KTVK/CNN) – An Arizona elected official has been arrested for adoption fraud after a multi- state investigation. According to court records, Petersen offered payment and “transported over 40 Marshallese pregnant women ” to Utah over the last three years in order for the

The charges against Paul Petersen — an adoption lawyer licensed in Utah and Arizona — include communications fraud, human smuggling and sale of a Peterson also allegedly failed to disclose the nature of the scheme to his client adoptive parents, leading to the charges of communications fraud.

In Arizona, Peterson was indicted on 32 charges including theft, fraud and forgery. Prosecutors there say the scheme defrauded Arizona's Medicaid system of $800,000 because the women had no intention of remaining in the state when they applied for benefits.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) said it received a tip in December of 2018 from a person who had been interested in adopting through Peterson's firm but became suspicious of his practices, court documents state.

Prosecutors say Petersen used associates in the Marshall Islands, where he had served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to recruit pregnant women by offering many of them $10,000 each to give up their babies for adoption. Petersen would pay for the women to travel to the U.S. days or months before giving birth and live in a home that he owned until delivering the baby, according to the court records.

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  Paul Petersen: How many women came here to give birth? As many as 70 pregnant women from the Marshall Islands may have traveled to the U.S. in an adoption scheme by Paul Petersen, officials say.Dozens of adoptive parents.

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona elected official has been charged with human smuggling in an adoption fraud scheme that brought dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U . S . to give up their children for adoption, court records show. Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen

Paul Peterson was charged with 11 felonies, including human smuggling , sale of a child and communications fraud. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office). An Arizona county assessor was indicted Tuesday for allegedly smuggling dozens of pregnant women into the United States .

Petersen charged families $25,000-$40,000 per adoption and brought about $2.7 million into a bank account for adoption fees in less than two years, according to court documents.

Under a compact between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Marshallese citizens can enter the U.S. and work without a visa, unless they're traveling for the purpose of adoption, authorities said.

Separately, federal prosecutors in Arkansas announced that Peterson had been arrested Wednesday and unsealed an indictment charging him with crimes including conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud.

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The Arizona Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Investigations and the Utah Attorney General's Office were involved in the arrest, officials said.

Authorities in all three states said that the birth mothers and the adoptive families did not commit any crimes and would not be facing charges. No completed adoptions will be undone because authorities do not believe the women were misled into believing their children might be returned at some point.

Petersen is being held on a $500,000 bond and is due in court on Oct. 15.

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