Lawyer arrested for Marshall Islands adoption fraud

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Pregnant Marshallese women were paid large sums to induce them to travel to Arkansas and to put their babies up for adoption in the state.

Federal officials have arrested a U.S. based attorney for his alleged involvement in adoption fraud and illegal human smuggling in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

A federal grand jury in the Western District of Arkansas indicted lawyer Paul Petersen on one count of conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain; four counts of aiding and abetting in alien smuggling for commercial advantage, and other charges.

Beginning in 2014, Petersen allegedly devised a scheme to defraud and obtain money and property from unknowing adoptive parents and others.

He paid pregnant Marshallese women large sums to induce them to travel to Arkansas and to put their babies up for adoption in the state.

He also bought airline tickets for them and caused them to conceal their true travel purpose from the authorities in the Marshall Islands and the United States.

According to the Indictment, Petersen is a licensed attorney who practices law in Arizona, Utah, and Arkansas.

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