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Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen pleads not guilty to federal charges in baby trafficking case

Paul Petersen’s trial in Arkansas is set for December 9.

Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen was in federal court Tuesday where he faces 19 federal charges stemming from alleged crimes tied to his adoption business.

Petersen pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and will be released on a $100,000 appearance bond. He was released from federal custody this afternoon and will return to the Valley Wednesday, 

Petersen’s trial in Arkansas is set for December 9. One of the conditions for his release was wearing GPS monitoring equipment. 

Petersen is only allowed to travel to Arizona, Utah and Arkansas, the three states where he is facing charges. He will also be prohibited from practicing adoption law while out on bond.

At the end of his appearance, after the judge advised Petersen to follow his release conditions, Petersen said, “Your honor there will be no other violations.” 

Multiple Marshallese people were in attendance for Petersen’s arraignment hearing. The Marshallese were not satisfied that Petersen was granted release on bond.

QUICK FACTS: Maricopa County assessor charged with child trafficking

Arkansas is one of three states where Petersen is charged for allegedly running an illegal international adoption scheme. Petersen faces 62 state and federal felony charges in total across the three states, which include Arizona and Utah.

RELATED: How adoption in the Marshall Islands differs from adoption in the US

Prosecutors say the scheme is centered around pregnant women from the Marshall Islands. Northwest Arkansas is home to the largest population of Marshallese people outside of the islands.

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