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Elected official accused of human smuggling is out on bond

HIGHFILL, Ark. — An Arizona County assessor accused of human smuggling has been released from jail in Arkansas.

Paul Petersen is accused of paying pregnant Marshallese women to have their children in the U.S., where they would be put up for adoption.

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On Wednesday, reporters caught up with Petersen at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport as he and his wife were heading back to Phoenix.

Petersen’s only comment was that he is happy to be heading home to be with his family and kids on Halloween.

He is facing federal charges — plus charges in three states.

Charges in Arizona, Arkansas and Utah include human smuggling, sale of a child, fraud, forgery and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

He was in federal court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to all charges in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Meanwhile, the Maricopa Board of Supervisors has voted to suspend Petersen.


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