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Embattled Arizona elected official now in federal custody

Posted at 2:41 PM, Oct 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-11 21:20:34-04

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona elected official facing human smuggling charges over an adoption scheme is in federal custody.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Phoenix said Friday that County Assessor Paul Petersen was no longer in their jail.

It was not immediately known where he was transferred.

Petersen is accused of running an adoption scheme that involved illegally bringing pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to give birth.

He allegedly charged families $25,000-$40,000 per adoption and defrauded Arizona's Medicaid system.

Prosecutors in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas have all filed charges that include sale of a child, fraud, forgery, money laundering and human smuggling.

Petersen's attorney says he engaged in "proper business practices."

County officials have called on Petersen to resign.