Paul Petersen, already in federal jail for operating an unlawful worldwide adoption enterprise out of his Mesa regulation agency, was scheduled to be sentenced Friday on Arizona prices of Medicaid fraud.
The previous Maricopa County assessor started serving his 74-month federal sentence on Jan. 21 in a jail close to El Paso.
However Petersen faces another 16.5 years in Arizona on fraud and forgery prices.
Maricopa County Superior Courtroom Choose Thomas Fink will determine if Petersen ought to do further time in state jail after finishing his federal sentence.
Petersen requested the courtroom this month for leniency. His legal professional mentioned in a March 10 movement that stacking further time onto Petersen’s federal sentence wouldn’t serve the pursuits of justice.
He requested Fink to not give Petersen any extra time than he’s already serving on the federal prices and to make any state sentence run concurrently.
To assist the request, Phoenix lawyer Kurt Altman argued that Fink should not consider Petersen’s adoption scheme and as a substitute focus solely on the fraud and forgery prices.
Petersen admitted to fraudulently enrolling start moms in Arizona’s Medicaid system and dishonest the state out of $800,000 as a part of his adoption enterprise. He additionally admitted forging paperwork to spice up the charges he charged adoptive dad and mom.
Altman mentioned Fink ought to reject arguments by state prosecutors tying the fraud to the adoptions, which he described as “irrelevant.” The “precise legality” of the adoptions is unrelated to the fraud, he mentioned.
Along with the fraud prices in Arizona, Petersen pleaded guilty last year to a federal human smuggling cost in Arkansas and human trafficking prices in Utah.
Petersen was arrested in October 2019. Federal and state authorities mentioned he created a pipeline to deliver girls to the U.S. from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, organized for them to present start in native hospitals and arrange adoptions of their infants to American households for as much as $40,000 every.
Authorities mentioned Petersen and his associates satisfied as many as 70 girls to surrender their infants.
Just about the entire adoptions Petersen arranged through his Mesa law office were with birth mothers from the Marshall Islands.
Residents of the Marshall Islands, which is situated close to the equator within the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the Philippines, can journey to the U.S. freely underneath the Compact of Free Affiliation between the 2 international locations.
In 2003, the compact was amended to forbid girls from touring for adoption functions.
Petersen resigned as county assessor in 2020 to concentrate on his legal protection. He was first elected in 2014 and once more in 2016. His taxpayer-funded wage was about $77,000 per yr.
However Petersen’s greatest money-making operation was his personal adoption enterprise.
Contracts, texts, emails and internal documents obtained by The Arizona Republic confirmed Petersen handled the start moms and their kids like financial transactions.
He moved a number of girls out and in of properties he owned in Mesa, outdoors Salt Lake Metropolis and Springdale, Arkansas; took cuts for dwelling bills out of cash he promised start moms; and made them stay in cramped, squalid situations.
Altman mentioned in his movement that Petersen is “embarrassed and enormously ashamed of his conduct.”
He reminded the courtroom that Petersen repaid the state $679,000 in restitution as a part of his plea deal.
Even when Fink agrees to not give Petersen further time in Arizona, he nonetheless faces the prospect of 15 years in a Utah jail.
Petersen’s sentencing date there might be decided after Friday’s listening to.
Robert Anglen investigates shopper points for The Republic. In case you’re the sufferer of fraud, waste or abuse, attain him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-444-8694. Comply with him on Twitter @robertanglen
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