Paul Petersen Now In Federal Custody
Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies have turned Paul Petersen over to federal authorities, an official announced Friday afternoon.
Petersen is the Maricopa County assessor. He faces dozens of charges in connection with an alleged illegal adoption scheme in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas, where he’s been indicted on federal charges.
Earlier on Friday, an Arkansas-based lawyer said a judge there has agreed to appoint a lawyer for Marshallese women who’d been working with Petersen to put their children up for adoption.
“Just last night, the first baby affected by Mr. Petersen’s arrest was born,” said Josh Bryant, who represents 13 families that had paid Petersen to help them adopt a child. “There is a child in the hospital that, had a court not stepped in right now, would still be in a situation which that child had no home.”
Bryant said the same Washington County Circuit Court judge has agreed to stop Petersen, and an associate, from continuing to work on the families’ cases.
“We have adoptive families from Arizona and Utah, Montana, Idaho, North Carolina, Alabama, Nevada,” he said.
Bryant says the families were in various stages of the adoption process. And they’d paid Petersen tens of thousands of dollars.
“Everybody right now is very, very frightened. And that includes adoptive parents, biological parents. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen,” Bryant said.