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Sean D. Reyes
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Stiff Sentence in Illegal Adoption Case

Phoenix, AZ (3/19/2021) – Although he’s still awaiting sentencing in Utah, former Maricopa County, Arizona auditor Paul Petersen will serve 11 years in prison, as the result of a sentences imposed earlier in Arkansas, and in Arizona on March 19, 2021.

Petersen will serve five years in prison in Arizona, to run concurrently, or on top of, the six-year federal term imposed in Arkansas. These sentences come after Petersen pleaded guilty to charges related to an illegal adoption case that also includes charges in Utah.  Petersen’s Utah sentencing date, earlier set for Monday March 22, has been postponed until further notice.

The Arizona judge imposed the five-year sentence, seen as sending a message to other would-be human traffickers.  Petersen pleaded guilty to felony offenses in all three states in the case: Medicaid fraud in Arizona, human  smuggling and communications fraud charges in Utah, and federal charges of harboring immigrants for profit in Arkansas.

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said he was pleased a strong message is being sent to human smugglers and traffickers.

“It’s vital to send a message to those who would even think about exploiting and defrauding vulnerable parents and their children,” Reyes said.  “Although no court can make the victims whole or undo the damage Petersen has caused, this strong sentence represents a measure of justice for the many people Petersen exploited and harmed, both in the United States and in the Marshall Islands.”

 “This also demonstrates the power of collaborating at the state and federal level and across multiple states in investigations and prosecutions,” Reyes continued.  “I applaud all of the dedicated professionals in Utah, Arkansas and Arizona for this welcome outcome.”

“We look forward to seeing Petersen sentenced in Utah in the coming weeks,” Attorney General Reyes added.


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