Indicted Maricopa County assessor resigns, awaits criminal trials in adoption fraud scheme

By Jessica Boehm | Arizona Republic 

Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen, who faces dozens of felony charges in three states, resigned from his county job Tuesday. 

The supervisors said they believed Petersen’s absence from office while incarcerated for nearly three weeks in October qualified as neglect of duty.

Petersen’s resignation comes after months of him pledging that he would not resign.

In a statement, Petersen said he is an “innocent man, but the media and the Board of Supervisors have presumed my guilt rather than my innocence in this matter.”

He said he decided to resign and turn his focus to defending himself against the criminal allegations in the courtroom “where rules and the Constitution still matter.”

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors suspended Petersen in October after he was arrested on charges related to his private sector job as an adoption attorney. 

The Board of Supervisors is the central governing body for the county, but it typically cannot remove other elected officials, such as Petersen, from office.

However, state law does give the board authority to suspend the assessor for up to 120 days for “neglect of duty.” The supervisors said they believed Petersen’s absence from office while incarcerated for nearly three weeks in October qualified as neglect of duty.

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