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Lynwood Jennet, woman charged alongside Paul Petersen, enters not guilty plea

Jennet is accused of assisting the embattled Maricopa County assessor in his alleged illegal adoption scheme.

PHOENIX — The woman charged alongside Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen faced a judge Thursday.

Donning an orange jumpsuit, Lynwood Jennet pleaded not guilty to a number of charges, including theft, fraudulent schemes and practices and forgery.

She's accused of working with Petersen in his illegal international adoption scheme. The pair is accused of identifying pregnant women in the Marshall Islands, flying them to the United States, then facilitating adoptions.

RELATED: These are the charges against Paul Petersen, accused of running illegal adoption scheme involving Marshallese women

Families were allegedly charged around $35,000 to adopt the Marshallese babies. The pregnant women were paid around $10,000 each, although in a press conference, DPS Col. Frank Milstead said Petersen was siphoning money off the top of that.

Credit: MCSO
Lynwood Jennet booking photo

The alleged scheme violates an agreement the United States made with the Marshall Islands, which prohibits Marshallese people from entering the United States if their travel is for the purpose of adoption.

Jennet is Marshallese and was allegedly Petersen's connection to some of the pregnant women.

RELATED: She was adopting a baby, but the process felt more like an 'exchange for old jeans'

Jennet is accused of fraudulently claiming the pregnant women lived in Arizona with her so they could obtain state benefits.

Arizona's Attorney General Mark Brnovich says the alleged scheme has cost the state and Arizona taxpayers more than $800,000.

RELATED: Maricopa County Board of Supervisors calls for Petersen's resignation amid adoption fraud charges

The 45-year-old woman is currently being held on a $250,000 cash-only bond. She is due back in court on November 18th.

RELATED: Arizona official charged with baby trafficking won't resign, attorney says