Arizona elected official accused of adoption fraud suspended

KNWA

Man facing human smuggling charges in Arkansas is suspended from his elected assessor position in Arizona.

PHOENIX (AP) — The governing board in Arizona’s most populous county has suspended an elected official accused of running a human smuggling scheme involving pregnant women from the Marshall Islands brought to the U.S. to give birth for adoptions.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday to suspend Assessor Paul Petersen without pay for up to 120 days.

Board members lack the authority to permanently remove Petersen from his office that determines the value of properties for tax purposes in Phoenix and its suburbs.

Authorities say Petersen illegally paid women from the Marshall Islands to have their babies in the United States and give them up for adoption.

He’s facing charges in Arizona, Arkansas and Utah including human smuggling, sale of a child, fraud, forgery and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

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