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Former Arizona Lawmaker Sentenced in Baby-Selling Scheme

( – Adoption can be a great process for everyone involved. It helps aspiring parents start a family when they can’t have their own children, and it gives unwanted babies a loving home. Unfortunately, adoption can also create opportunities for illegal profiteering.

On Tuesday, December 1, a former Maricopa County Assessor was sentenced to over five years in federal prison for orchestrating what the judge described as a “baby-selling enterprise.” Paul Petersen was charged with arranging over 70 illegal adoptions in the 1990s and 2000s.

Petersen would initially connect with pregnant women from the Marshall Islands, a dominion with which the United States has a free-travel arrangement, and bring them here. He would then find an American couple seeking to adopt a child and accept thousands of dollars from them in return for putting them in touch with the pregnant Marshallese woman.

Along with his federal sentence, Petersen is likely to receive lengthy prison terms from state judges in Utah and Arizona for his offenses. Given the extent of the exploitation he carried out, this is surely to be welcomed.

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