Judge reduces Petersen’s bail with caveat in Utah adoption scheme

Paul D. Petersen, 44, is being held in a federal custody in Arizona

By Dennis Romboy | KSL 

A judge substantially reduced the bail Friday for an Arizona elected official accused of running an illegal adoption scheme in three states and smuggling at least 40 pregnant women to Utah from the Marshall Islands.

Paul D. Petersen, 44, is being held in a federal custody in Arizona as he awaits his first court date in Arkansas, where he faces federal charges of human smuggling, fraud and money laundering.

Third District Judge Linda Jones cut Petersen’s bail in Utah from $3 million to $150,000 bond only after defense attorneys and prosecutors agreed on the amount. She also placed conditions on Petersen, including having no involvement with adoptions and surrendering his passport, should he be released from federal custody.

Petersen’s Utah attorney, Scott Williams, said he asked for the hearing because the federal court will not hold a detention hearing in the case until the bail issue in Utah is resolved.

Jones said if the paperwork for Petersen’s bail isn’t “buttoned up” by next Wednesday, she would issue a new arrest warrant and reimpose the $3 million bail. The judge initially settled on that figure based on $2.7 million that allegedly went to a bank account for adoption fees over roughly two years.


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