PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen holds a license to practice law in three states, Arizona, Utah, and Arkansas. He is accused of bringing pregnant Marshallese women to all of them to give birth.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Paul D. Petersen charged adoptive families $35K in fraud scheme, investigators say]

According to the federal indictment, Petersen's Arkansas operation was aided by a woman named Maki Takehisa.

According to a criminal complaint, Takehisa would bring the women to her relative's home until they were ready to give birth.

In one instance, a woman gave birth to a boy on May 22, 2015. She was sent back home to the Marshall Islands just 18 days later.

[WATCH: The Arkansas angle]

Officials say the births continued until Petersen and Takehisa were both arrested earlier this week.

[CONTINUING COVERAGE: Adoption fraud investigation]

"[The birth mothers] are under the impression that they might go to jail. They don't know where their help is coming from," said Michaela Montie of Shared Beginnings Adoption Agency, the group now assisting those women.

Representing 13 prospective adoptive families, lawyers in Arkansas on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Petersen and another woman they say worked to help him.

"We've got two mothers in the hospital right now in labor and serious questions about whether the adoptive parents that are assigned to them will be able to adopt and whether that mother will be able to take care for that child," attorney Josh Bryant said. "We need to get the ball rolling on figuring how we're going to clean up the mess that is here." At least two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Arizona residents who were planning on adopting through Petersen.

[RELATED: County judge had concerns about Petersen's adoption operation in 2006]

Attorneys say many of them had already paid Petersen.

Now attorneys are asking a judge to take over all those cases and decide what to do next.

"[We need to] make sure that these mothers receive the social services and the medical care that they need," Bryant said.

[RELATED: Couple paid Paul Petersen for adopted baby, forced to give child back]

The other adoptive parents in this lawsuit are from Michigan, Minnesota, Idaho, North Carolina, and Alabama.

INVESTIGATORS ASK ANYONE WITH INFORMATION TO CALL HOTLINE

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says he expects the investigation to grow and is asking people with information to call in with anything they might know.

Anyone with information or questions pertaining to adoptions involving children from the Marshall Islands is urged to call the Arizona Attorney General's Office at 602-542-8888. (Click the phone number to call from this story your mobile device.)

According to the Maricopa County Assessor's website, Petersen has been helping people across the U.S. adopt for nearly 15 years.

 


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