PHOENIX – A U.S. District judge sentenced former Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen to 74 months in federal prison for perpetrating illegal adoptions in what prosecutors called a “get-rich-quick scheme … hidden behind the shiny veneer of a humanitarian operation.”

The judge also fined Petersen $100,000. 

“He subverted what should be a joyous time for everyone into a baby-selling enterprise. The conduct Mr. Petersen engaged in violates public policy. We don’t sell babies. That is the public policy of the United States of America,” U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks said during Petersen’s virtual sentencing hearing Tuesday morning. 

Petersen has 14 days to appeal the sentence.

Petersen, who was arrested last year on charges related to human smuggling and Medicare fraud, could face additional time on state charges after he completes his federal sentence. 

Previously:An Arizona elected official ran an illegal adoption scheme: How big was the ‘baby mill’?

Kurt Altman, left, Paul Petersen's attorney, speaks to the press on the steps of Maricopa County Superior Court as Paul Petersen listens, Dec. 19, 2019.

This summer, Petersen pleaded guilty to charges in Arizona and Utah state courts and to federal charges in the Western District of Arkansas in hopes of combining his sentences and serving them in a federal penitentiary.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office says it is not party to any agreement to cut the sentence for the former Maricopa County assessor, and it’s unclear whether Utah prosecutors will cut any deals, either. 

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