LOCAL NEWS

Utah Attorney General’s Office Charges Elected Arizona Official With Human Smuggling, Sale Of Children

Oct 8, 2019, 9:49 PM | Updated: Oct 9, 2019, 2:26 pm
FILE PHOTO...
FILE PHOTO

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Utah Attorney General’s Office has charged an elected Arizona official with 11 felony offenses, including human smuggling, sale of a child and communications fraud, according to officials.

Officials with the Utah Attorney General’s Office said Paul D. Petersen, who is the elected County Assessor for Maricopa County, Arizona, and an adoption lawyer licensed in Utah and Arizona, was arrested in Arizona Tuesday night.

Officials alleged Petersen ran an illegal adoption scheme recruiting, transporting and paying women from the Republic of the Marshal Islands to give up their babies for adoption in the U.S.

According to the press release, Petersen is alleged to have transported over 40 pregnant Marshallese to Utah over the last three years.

“While Mr. Petersen is entitled to a presumption of innocence, our investigation uncovered evidence that he has committed horrible crimes,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes in a press release. “Petersen’s illegal adoption scheme exploited highly vulnerable groups in two countries — the birth mothers and families in the Marshall Islands and the adoptive parents here in Utah. It is heartbreaking that these families from both countries were so cruelly manipulated.”

Maricopa County Assessor Paul D. Petersen. (Courtesy Maricopa County Assessor’s Office)

 

Petersen also faces related charges in Arizona and Arkansas, according to the press release.

“Due to a long history of adoption-related exploitation in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, adoptions between the United States and the Marshall Islands are governed by an Interstate Compact that prohibits this type of international adoption,” officials said in the press release.

Officials with the Utah Attorney General’s Office said they were alerted about the case through their human trafficking tip line.

“This case first came to us from concerned hospital workers cold-calling our human trafficking tip line,” said Chief Criminal Deputy Spencer Austin. “We always say, ‘If you see something, say something.’ I think these charges prove that if you do say something, we will listen. We will use every resource at our disposal to put a stop to these horrendous crimes.”

Officials will hold a press conference Wednesday at noon to discuss details of the case and subsequent charges.

According to court documents, Petersen faces three third-degree felony counts of sale of child, three second-degree counts of communications fraud, four counts of third-degree felony counts of human smuggling and a second-degree felony count of pattern of unlaw activity.

A warrant for Petersen’s arrest was issued on Tuesday.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Vincent's House of Goju in Magna, where 57-year-old Michael Vincent was shot and killed in July 202...
Kaitlyn Bancroft, KSL.com

Prison ordered for woman who shot and killed husband, but claimed self-defense

Cynthia Vincent, who shot her husband and claimed it was self-defense, was sentenced her to one to 15 years in prison for the July 2021 manslaughter death.
14 hours ago
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 09: (L-R) Christina Rogers, Janeen Damian, Michael Damian, Brad Krevo...
Eliza Pace

Netflix’s ‘Falling for Christmas’ filmed at these charming Utah locations

Lindsay Lohan's "Falling for Christmas" movie may seem familiar - it's because it was shot in Utah!
14 hours ago
A sign marking the entrance to Hildale in Utah, from Colorado City in Arizona. (FILE)...
Larry D. Curtis

FBI says polygamist leader took 20 wives, many underage, alleges illicit sexual activities

Probable cause documents lay out illicit sexual activities of a small religious group — that included underage girls — under the orders of Samuel Rappylee Bateman, living on the Utah and Arizona border. The documents also detail how girls were helped to run away by Bateman’s adult plural wives after they were removed from family […]
14 hours ago
FILE: A FedEx truck makes deliveries on December 06, 2021 in New York City. As Americans continue t...
Tamara Vaifanua

Tips to avoid holiday delivery delays and hassles

From porch pirates to crushed boxes, shipping experts with Consumer Affairs have five tips to make sure deliveries go smoothly.
14 hours ago
(Photo: Vivint)...
Michael Houck

NRG Energy set to purchase Vivint Smart Home

The North American power and energy company announced its purchase of the Provo-based smart home company on Tuesday. 
14 hours ago
Some residents of an Orem student apartment complex ran for their lives after shots were fired on t...
Pat Reavy

Alleged gunman in Orem apartment shooting is charged with attempted murder

A man who witnesses say was kicked out of a party happening at an Orem apartment complex has been charged with shooting at two people who tried to confront him, according to police.
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Utah Attorney General’s Office Charges Elected Arizona Official With Human Smuggling, Sale Of Children