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Maricopa county assessor resigns in wake of adoption scandal

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MCSO

Paul Petersen faces criminal charges in 3 states including Arizona

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KYMA, KSWT, KECY) - Maricopa County assessor Paul Peterson stepped down Tuesday amid charges he brokered dozens of illegal adoptions.

Petersen was first arrested in October. He faces a total of 62 charges, including human trafficking charges in Utah and Arkansas. He's also accused of defrauding Arizona's Medicaid system out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Prosecutors say Petersen paid pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to come to the U.S. and give up their babies for adoption. They say he used Medicaid to pay for their medical expenses.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors suspended Petersen in late December, but he refused to step down. He even ignored calls from Governor Doug Ducey to resign.

In announcing his decision Tuesday, Petersen proclaimed his innocence and insisted he never neglected his duties. He says county officials and the news media have presumed his guilt.

Arizona News / Crime / State & Regional News

Lisa Sturgis

Lisa Sturgis recently returned to KYMA as its Digital Content Director, but she has a long history with the Desert Southwest.

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