PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Embattled Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen is back in the Valley.

He and his wife arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Thursday after he spent the past three weeks behind bars in Arizona and, most recently, in Arkansas.

[WATCH: Embattled Maricopa County Assesor Paul Petersen back in Arizona]

Petersen's return caps a whirlwind week that saw him released from federal custody after pleading not guilty in a western Arkansas federal court to charges that he helped run an illegal adoption scheme.

[RELATED: County Assessor Paul Petersen pleads not guilty to federal charges in Arkansas]

It was also a week in which the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors took the unprecedented step on suspending Petersen for the next four months while appointing a replacement to run his elected office.

[RELATED: County Assessor Paul Petersen suspended following arrest in adoption fraud ring]

Petersen faces dozens of charges related to a human smuggling operation that brought women to the United States from the Marshall Islands and paid them to give up their babies for adoption.

After his flight landed Thursday afternoon, Petersen did not answer any questions, so we do not know if he plans to fight his suspension.

[RELATED: Superior Court finds six more pending adoptions through Paul Petersen]

Petersen has until Nov. 7 to appeal the decision, but the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said this week that he doesn't see any reason to lift the suspension.

A recent audit of his office will likely make it harder to convince the board they should reverse course and allow the assessor to resume his position.

[RELATED: Who is Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen?]

That audit reviewed emails dating back to 2006, several years before he was appointed to the job in 2013.

Over the past 13 years, County auditors found 14% of the documents on his work computer was used for official county business. The rest was used for his personal and legal business, according to the audit.

[CONTINUING COVERAGE: Adoption fraud investigation]

Since getting appointed to the Assessor's Office, the audit found 5% of the work on his computer was official county business.

 


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