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County Accepts Resignation of Assessor Who Allegedly Paid Women to Give Up Their Babies


The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors formally accepted the resignation of Assessor Paul Petersen on Wednesday. The official faces a pending case for allegedly paying women to give up their babies in an adoption fraud scheme.

Petersen, an adoption attorney, faces charges in Arizona, Arkansas, and Utah. As part of the plot, women from the Marshall Islands gave birth, and babies were put up for adoption, authorities said. Prosecutors in Arizona said in a press conference last year that they were not investigating the families that adopted the kids, and that this scheme was unfair to these parents and state taxpayers.

Maricopa County board members alleged there’s texts and other evidence showing he threatened the women involved, according to a Phoenix New Times article from December.

“All you girls work for me, not the other way around,” he allegedly wrote.

To be sure, he maintained on Tuesday that he did nothing wrong, and remarked bitterly on the board suspending him. He said he resigned reluctantly. He said he did his job, and argued that the board shouldn’t have turned on him because he did his job right.

“I am an innocent man, but the media and the Board of Supervisors have presumed my guilty rather than my innocence in this matter,” he wrote in a statement.

Petersen co-defendant Lynwood Jennet pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy, theft, and failure to file a tax return. She agreed to testify against him.

[Mugshot via Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office]

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