PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is calling for County Assessor Paul Petersen to resign.
The Board of Supervisors released the following statement to Arizona's Family on Thursday morning: "Due to the serious nature of these allegations and out of respect for the Maricopa County Assessor's Office, each member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors calls for the resignation of County Assessor Paul Petersen. Petersen's prompt resignation will ensure his legal issues don't distract him from leading the County Assessor's Office. The Board will continue to provide the necessary resources and leadership to the Assessor's Office so the team can remain focused on providing excellent customer service to the residents of Maricopa County."
Maricopa County Assessor Paul D. Petersen and a woman were indicted on fraud charges in connection to his adoption business on Tuesday.
Petersen was arrested on Tuesday evening and was transferred to Maricopa County, where he made his initial court appearance. The judge set a $500,000 cash bond. Petersen's next court appearance is Oct. 15, where he will be required to relinquish his passport.
According to court paperwork obtained by Arizona's Family, Petersen and associate Lynwood Jennet arranged and paid for pregnant women to travel from the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) to the United States to place their children for adoption. The Compact of Free Association law, passed in the mid-1980s, bans women from RMI from coming to the U.S. just for adoption. The law allows for exceptions if a special visa is obtained.
The paperwork indicates Petersen has been involved in adoptions with Marshallese babies as far back as 2005. Between Nov. 30, 2015, and May 30, 2019, investigators identified 28 women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands who gave birth in the Phoenix area and then placed their babies up for adoption through Petersen. Petersen allegedly paid these women as much as $10,000 plus $1,000/month during the time they were staying at his home in Phoenix. Additionally, he allegedly covered travel, food, and cell phone costs.
According to the Maricopa County Assessor's website, Petersen has been helping people across the U.S. adopt for nearly 15 years.
Petersen was appointed to the position of county assessor in 2013, won a special election in 2014, and was re-elected in 2016. The county assessor is in charge of property valuation.