Shoug Basim Staff Reporter- The Pawprint
One of Arizona’s county assessors was indicted Tuesday night in his alleged role in an adoption fraud scheme. Paul Petersen, assessor for Maricopa County, was arrested on charges of running an adoption fraud scheme, according to an indictment obtained by the Arizona Republic.
Petersen, an adoption lawyer licensed in Arizona and Utah, is facing similar charges in Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The 32-count indictment filed in the Superior Court of Arizona alleges Petersen committed conspiracy, fraud, and forgery. Petersen and Lynwood Jennet are accused of committing fraudulent schemes for organizing travel for women from the Marshall Islands, a country of volcanic islands between Hawaii and the Philippines, to give up their children for adoption in Arizona.
Petersen and Jennet claimed the pregnant women were Arizona residents so they could receive medical services from Arizona’s Medicaid system, according to the indictment. Jennet worked for the law office of Paul D. Petersen, according to court documents obtained by News 12 in Arizona. In Utah, where he faces more serious crimes, the attorney general alleges that Petersen transported more than 40 women from the Marshall Islands to have their children in the state between December 2016 and August 2019, offering each woman $10,000 through associates, according to Utah court documents. Petersen is charged with communications fraud, human smuggling and sale of a child in Utah.