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Ex-politician in prison for adoption scheme loses appeal

Then-Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen leaves court in Salt Lake City Nov. 15, 2019. Petersen, accused of running an illegal adoption scheme in three states involving women from the Marshall Islands, lost an appeal of one of his sentences.

Then-Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen leaves court in Salt Lake City Nov. 15, 2019. Petersen, accused of running an illegal adoption scheme in three states involving women from the Marshall Islands, lost an appeal of one of his sentences. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)



Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

PHOENIX — A former Arizona politician in prison for running an illegal adoption scheme in three states involving women from the Marshall Islands has lost an appeal of one of his sentences.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a six-year sentence given in Arkansas to Paul Petersen, a Republican who served as metro Phoenix's assessor for six years and also worked as an adoption attorney.

Prosecutors said Petersen illegally paid women to come to the U.S. to give up their babies in at least 70 adoptions cases in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas.

In all, Petersen was sentenced to 11 years in prison in Arizona and Arkansas. He also was convicted in Utah and sentenced to at least one and up to 15 years in the Utah State Prison. Parole authorities will determine the exact length of his sentence.

The appeals court rejected the argument that Petersen's sentence, which was two years longer than sentencing guidelines had recommended, was unreasonable and said the sentencing judge made it clear why he considered Petersen to be unique from others who had received shorter punishments for similar offenses in other cases.

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Jacques Billeaud

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