An Arizona official is accused of placing at least 29 babies from the Marshall Islands with adoptive families and bilking taxpayers of $814,000 in health care costs, according to a 32-count indictment
Paul D. Petersen, Maricopa County’s assessor, arranged for women from the Marshall Islands to fly to the United States to give birth at taxpayers’ expense, prosecutors said.Image Paul D. Petersen, the assessor of Maricopa County, has been accused of arranging for dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to come to the United States to give their children up for adoption. Credit Maricopa County Assessor's Offic, via Associated Press By Neil Vigdor Oct. 9, 2019 He offered each of the expecting mothers $10,000 to put their newborns up for adoption, siphoning off money for housing and health care after arranging for them to travel more than 5,000 miles from the Marshall Islands to the United States, prosecutors said. Then, after falsifying their residency records to enroll them in state health care coverage, Paul D. Petersen commanded a $35,000 fee from parents eager to adopt, according to the authorities. That’s how the alleged adoption fraud scheme operated for three and a half years, until Mr. Petersen, the elected assessor of Maricopa County, Arizona, and a private adoption lawyer, was indicted this week in three states. Mr. Petersen, 44, of Mesa, Ariz., is accused of placing at least 29 babies from the South Pacific island nation with adoptive families and bilking taxpayers of $814,000 in health care costs, according to a 32-count indictment in Arizona. The felony charges against him include fraud, forgery and theft. “It’s unfair to the adoptive parents and it’s also unfair to every hard-working Arizona taxpayer,” Mark Brnovich , Arizona’s attorney general, said during a news conference on Wednesday. A 1983 compact prohibits citizens of the Marshall Islands from traveling to the United States for the purposes of adoption. The compact allows Marshallese citizens to freely enter and work in the United States. Just before Mr. Petersen’s arrest on Tuesday, eight pregnant Marshallese women were discovered at a home in Mesa by law enforcement officers issuing a search warrant, the authorities said. Mr. Petersen’s lawyer, Matthew Long, disputed the felony charges during a court hearing Tuesday in Maricopa County, where a judge set Mr. Petersen’s cash bond at $500,000. “The allegations, here, we look forward to challenging,” said Mr. Long, who objected to the bond amount and argued that Mr. Petersen was not a flight risk. Mr. Long did not immediately respond to a request for further comment on Wednesday. Mr. Petersen was also indicted by federal prosecutors in Arkansas and state prosecutors in Utah. The authorities said Mr. Petersen had help from Lynwood Jennet , who was charged as a co-defendant and is Marshallese. It was not immediately clear if Ms. Jennet had a lawyer. Image Lynwood Jennet and Paul D. Petersen were indicted this week in three states. Credit Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Mr. Brnovich assured parents of the babies who were adopted that they would not lose their children, and said that their biological mothers were not facing criminal charges. “Anyone who has adopted a kid has nothing to worry about,” Mr. Brnovich said. “No one’s going to go back and redo adoptions or any of that kind of stuff. Our focus is on these specific individuals, who have allegedly abused the system and ripped off Arizona taxpayers.” Mr. Brnovich said most of the babies were placed with adoptive families in other states and that their birth mothers returned to the Marshall Islands in some cases. According to his biography on the Maricopa County website, Mr. Petersen was first elected assessor in 2014 and was re-elected in 2016, when he received more than 1 million votes. The assessor is responsible for land valuations and property tax policy. Phoenix is part of Maricopa County, which is Arizona’s most populous county. Mr. Petersen’s adoption website lists the average cost for an adoption as $30,000 to $40,000, which “covers the birth mother’s monthly expenses, prenatal and delivery medical expenses and assistants and office expenses.” Colonel Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said during Wednesday’s news conference that a state trooper was first alerted about the fraud scheme by a friend who had questioned the legitimacy of Mr. Petersen’s adoption service. Mr. Petersen is expected to enter a plea on his next court date, which is scheduled for Oct. 15. Neil Vigdor is a breaking news reporter on the Express Desk. He previously covered Connecticut politics for the Hartford Courant. @ Read more: The New York Times
Now that a Republican is involved, perhaps Dems in Congress will find the will to close the 'birth tourism' loophole that was exploited for the sake of an adoption-enrichment scheme? BirthRightCitizenship BirthTourism johnaguonjr So many crooks in this country why is this mostly because there aren’t enough white collar crimes investigated and prosecuted. Like trump and many republicans should be finding out about this soon I hope.
Likely a good cinservative fella. Eh MeghanMcCain Those 29 could have been abducted and stolen as well. Happens. Adoption agencies are often corrupt for profit businesses out for money not kids. Adoptive parents need to be selective of what agencies they're supporting. Your infertility doesn't justify abetting human trafficking.
Oh look, a Republican. He's a sweet guy, great smile, always helping those in need ... ok, I lied. He's an a-hole GOP official who'd lie, cheat and steal to benefit himself A republican found guilty of what their tinfoil mafia accuse others of. Go fucking figure. 🤷♂️ Most adoption processes are legal forms of human trafficking. This one is no different.
More Proof that politics is one big criminal scam. Anyone wanting to serve..are they really for the people, or for the money they can make off the system? basically human trafficking for profit. Typical republican...
Arizona official arrested amid alleged illegal adoption schemePaul Petersen serves as the Maricopa County Assessor, described on the office's website as a position that administers property. Damn wth SaveTheKurds TurkeyIsNotOurFriend standwithkurds Is that where the imprisoned kids are going
Why do these criminals always have such white teeth? New York Times, allowing ultra-right-wing white supremacists a platform in the opinion section has LOST ALL CREDIBILITY. bilking Throw the book at this Arizona official and all political criminals,this money grubbing traitor is screwed Blue. It doesn’t matter Democrat or Republican these politicians need need to be monitored all of them period. Just imagine the corruption in this country by these fake smiling criminals.
Gdad1 .IvankaTrump Sad Oh look its mattgaetz ! No wait, I'm wrong, its just the generic Republican face, haircut & hatred for everything in the world besides white men and money. Easy to mix those up. I'm going to guess that he's a Republican by default. Does some google research Oh look! He is! I'm so shocked! What a worthless 'political party.' There are no good people in this crime syndicate.
Ok atleast he didn't shoot some innocent . Money I don't mind. He is better then most in current world
Arizona official accused of human smuggling via a Marshall Islands adoption schemeAn Arizona county assessor is accused of human smuggling as part of a scheme that involved more than 40 pregnant women from the Marshall Islands brought to the United States to give up their babies for adoption, federal prosecutors say Whoa It would have been easier to drop by Planned Parenthood and pay a few for their babies!!! Imagine that ...
Party of family values for the win! 🙄 Why do guys like this get away with this? Republicans right
Arizona county assessor accused of human smuggling, sale of a child in adoption schemeThe assessor of Arizona 's largest county has been indicted in connection with 11 felony offenses, including human smuggling, sale of a child and communications fraud in an adoption fraud scheme, authorities said. Lemme guess ... Active Republican ? 🤔 He is an active member of the Maricopa County Republican Party, the Arizona Republican Party, and a precinct committeeman in Legislative District 25. Put him in jail!
NPR Choice pageMike VP You were just in the Marshall Islands, you know anything about this? Humans are monsters.
NPR Choice pageYep, a republican. Of, and TrumpGenocide nice mugshot of a human trafficker What the fuck
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