Official quits amid charges he paid women to give up babies

In this Nov. 15, 2019 file photo, Paul Petersen, an Arizona elected official accused of running a multi-state adoption scheme, leaves court following an initial appearance on charges filed in the state in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP) – An Arizona elected official has resigned amid charges he paid women from the Marshall Islands to give up their children for adoption in the U.S.

Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen’s resignation Tuesday came after county leaders suspended him.

Petersen has been charged with illegally paying women to come to the United States to give up their babies in at least 70 adoption cases in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas.

He faces human smuggling charges in Utah and Arkansas and is accused of defrauding Arizona’s Medicaid system.

His attorneys say Petersen ran a legal adoption practice and has been vilified before his side of the story comes out.

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