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Paul Petersen pleads guilty to human smuggling in Utah as part of a multistate adoption scheme

Paul Petersen pleads guilty to human smuggling in Utah as part of a multistate adoption scheme

A former public official in Arizona accused of smuggling pregnant girls from the Marshall Islands into at the least three states — together with Utah — pleaded responsible to human smuggling and communication fraud.

Paul Petersen pleaded responsible to the 4 felonies in Utah on Friday, a day after he pleaded guilty to fraud charges in his residence state of Arizona for submitting false functions to their Medicaid system for the moms to obtain state-funded well being protection. He’s additionally anticipated to plead responsible subsequent week to prices filed in Arkansas.

Petersen admitted Friday that he paid for airline tickets and lodging for 3 pregnant girls from the Marshall Islands for a “business function” — charging adoption charges for the ladies’s infants. Adoptive dad and mom would pay a complete of $35,000 to undertake a baby.

He additionally pleaded responsible to communication fraud for failing to inform his purchasers that there was a compact between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands, which bans Marshallese folks from touring to the USA for adoptions — until they’ve a particular visa.

The human smuggling prices carry a most penalty of as much as 5 years; the communications fraud is a most one-to-15 yr sentence. He’s anticipated to be sentenced in Utah on Nov. 13.

Utah officers mentioned final yr that they started investigating Petersen’s adoption legislation follow in October 2017, after a hospital staffer in Utah referred to as an legal professional normal tip line with issues a few attainable unlawful adoption involving a Marshallese girl who had given start on the hospital.

Petersen’s web site boasted that he may also help {couples} undertake kids “with out the direct involvement of a 3rd celebration, equivalent to an adoption company or a state company.”

However the Utah Legal professional Basic’s Workplace says Petersen violated the compact between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands.

Charging data allege that Petersen — an adoption lawyer licensed in Utah, Arizona and Arkansas — charged {couples} in the USA $35,000 to undertake kids from the Marshall Islands.

He’s accused of hiring folks to recruit pregnant Marshallese girls to offer start in the USA, then quit their kids for adoption. The ladies obtained $10,000, prices state, and the prices of their journey have been paid. Many left the nation weeks after their kids have been born, officers say.

The Salt Lake Tribune will replace this story.

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