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Lawyer says Arizona official miscast as human smuggler

Posted at 1:15 PM, Oct 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-15 16:15:38-04

PHOENIX (AP) - A lawyer for an Arizona elected official charged in three states with facilitating an illegal international adoption scheme says prosecutors have miscast his client as a human smuggler.

Attorney Matt Long said Tuesday Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen cares deeply for the birth mothers from the Marshall Islands whom he connected with adoptive parents in the United States.

Long says prosecutors cherry picked facts to support their narrative, but he's confident Petersen will be vindicated. He says Petersen has been unfairly ping-ponged between state and federal custody and has been largely denied access to his lawyer. Long says that's made it hard for him to defend his client.

A judge in Phoenix delayed Petersen's arraignment Tuesday until after an Oct. 29 hearing in Arkansas, where he faces federal charges.