Former Arizona Politician Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Running Illegal Adoption Scheme in 3 States
Paul Petersen illegally paid women from the Marshall Islands to come to the America and give up their babies in at least 70 adoptions cases in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas, prosecutors said.
The former Arizona politician who admitted to running an illegal adoption scheme in three states with women from the Marshall Islands was sentenced to six years in federal prison this week, officials said. Paul Petersen admitted to illegally paying women from the Marshall Islands to come to America and give up their babies in at least 70 adoptions cases in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas, the AP reported.
Petersen a Republican who served as assessor of Maricopa County for six years and also worked as an adoption attorney at first said he believed he was acting within the bounds of the law and that what he was doing was legal, the AP wrote. After the fact, he realized what he was doing was wrong, Peterson said. Judge Timothy Brooks said he did not believe Petersen's story.
“You knew that lying and making these false statements to immigration officials and state courts was wrong,” Brooks said as he imposed the sentence from Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The judge also reportedly said Petersen abused his position as an attorney by misleading or instructing others to lie to courts in adoptions that wouldn’t have been approved had the truth been told to them.
“I take responsibility for my lack of oversight,” said Petersen as he appeared via video link.
Peterson is expected to face three other sentences for arranging adoptions prohibited by an international compact. Petersen earlier pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit human smuggling in Arkansas, and faces sentencing next month for convictions in Utah and Arizona. He has pleaded guilty to the charges in those cases as well.
Officials began investigating Petersen in 2017 after they received a tip about his actions.
Since 1983,residents of the Marshall Islands have been prohibited from traveling to Americans for adoption purposes.
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