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Wed, Nov. 20

Arizona official accused of smuggling contests suspension

This undated booking photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows County Assessor Paul Petersen, who has been indicted in an adoption fraud case. Petersen is accused of arranging for dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to come to the U.S. to give their children up for adoption. Utah also has charged him with 11 felony counts, including human smuggling, sale of a child and communications fraud. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP)

This undated booking photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows County Assessor Paul Petersen, who has been indicted in an adoption fraud case. Petersen is accused of arranging for dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to come to the U.S. to give their children up for adoption. Utah also has charged him with 11 felony counts, including human smuggling, sale of a child and communications fraud. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP)

PHOENIX — Paul Petersen has requested a hearing to contest his suspension as Maricopa County assessor while he awaits trial for human smuggling and other charges related to his adoption business.

Lawyers for Petersen said in a letter Thursday that suspension was illegal.

Prosecutors in three states say Petersen brought pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the United States and paid them to give up their babies for adoption. He's pleaded not guilty.

The county Board of Supervisors last month declared that the Republican assessor had neglected his duties and suspended him without pay for 120 days.

Petersen's lawyers say the supervisors offered no evidence that he failed to carry out his duties as assessor.

A county spokesman says a hearing will be scheduled in the near future.

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