Arizona Republican Arrested On Human Trafficking Charges After ‘Selling Children’ For $40K Each
Paul Petersen, a Republican Maricopa County Assessor, has been indicted on 11 counts, including human smuggling and sale of a child, as part of a far-reaching international adoption fraud scheme, NBC News reported Wednesday.
According to court documents, prosecutors accuse Petersen of transporting 40 pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to Utah to give birth and proceeded to sell the babies to U.S. families for $40,000 each. He is also accused of fraudulently billing Medicaid for the prenatal costs, by claiming the Marshallese women were residents of Arizona.
Peterson, a Republican, was first appointed to the position of Maricopa County assessor in 2013 after serving as the office’s liaison to the legislature and won a regularly scheduled election unopposed in 2016.
NBC News reports that his adoption law practice first came under scrutiny in 2018. He was taken into custody by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Investigations, and officials from the Utah Attorney General’s Office.