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Paul Petersen pleads not guilty on Utah smuggling charges

The embattled Maricopa County assessor was back in court to face a judge for the third time in a matter of weeks.

Embattled Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen pleaded not guilty to 11 felony counts in Utah connected to his alleged baby-selling scheme. The charges in Utah include human smuggling and sale of a child.

He also faces charges in Arizona and federal charges in Arkansas. 

Petersen was arrested in early October after officials across three states say he was running an illegal international adoption scheme for years. The scheme was allegedly centered around women from the Marshall Islands.

Petersen is accused of paying for pregnant Marshallese women to fly to the United States, where he would put them up until they gave birth. 

Team 12's Bianca Buono gave an update on the case after Petersen's hearing concluded.

In Arizona, he’s also accused of claiming the women were Arizona residents so they could obtain state benefits. 

Petersen would allegedly pay each pregnant woman up to $10,000 to put their children up for adoption. He would then allegedly charge adoptive families $30,000 to $40,000 per child.

Since Petersen’s arrest, advocates for the Marshallese women have spoken out, saying the women were told they did not have a choice in their adoption. 

Eight pregnant women were found living in poor conditions in an apartment complex in Mesa. More than 20 pregnant women were found in Arkansas. Some of them were living in a duplex with padlocks on the doors. 

Many of the pregnant women have since decided to keep their babies.

Petersen has already pleaded not guilty to federal charges in Arkansas and state charges in Arizona. 

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

RELATED: Paul Petersen pleads not guilty to Arizona charges

He was suspended from his job as Maricopa County assessor, but is now fighting that suspension.

RELATED: Paul Petersen gets Dec. 11 hearing to appeal suspension from Maricopa County assessor job

Petersen’s federal trial is set to begin on Dec. 9 in Arkansas.


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Marshallese president applauds Paul Petersen's arrest in alleged illegal adoption scheme

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

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

 Inside the baby-mill case against Maricopa County official Paul Petersen

 Answering your questions about Paul Petersen's adoption agency

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 Court docs: Arizona attorney accused of running illegal adoption scheme sued clients for more than $12K

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


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