An Arizona official got six years for smuggling pregnant women to the United States to sell their children

An Arizona official got six years for smuggling pregnant women to the United States to sell their children

“You became an accomplice in selling babies,” the judge told a former Maricopa County official and an adoption lawyer who pleaded guilty to an illegal fraud scheme.

Arizona Republican Paul Petersen was sentenced to six years in prison for smuggling pregnant women to America under an illegal adoption scheme that operated in three states and helped fund his luxurious lifestyle. A former adoption attorney, he pleaded guilty in June to paying future mothers from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to give birth to their children in the United States and giving them foster families in exchange for a fee of about $10,000.

However, at the time of the hearing, Petersen denied knowing that his employees in an adoption fraud operation coerced these women into taking their passports, threatening to retrieve them if they tried to give up the deal.

U.S. district judge Timothy Brooks sentenced Petersen, 45, to 74 months in prison and a $105,100 fine on one count for “conspiring to smuggle foreigners for personal financial gain. Petersen’s sentence includes three years’ supervisory release after he leaves Arizona federal prison.