Maricopa County supervisors considering suspension for indicted assessor

The chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors indicated on Friday that the board could move to suspend indicted county assessor Paul Petersen, who faces dozens of charges in conjunction with an allegedly illegal adoption ring involving women from the Marshall Islands.

Following a closed-door session on Friday afternoon that lasted for more than two hours, Supervisor Bill Gates told reporters that the board is waiting for the results of an audit that was ordered Oct. 14 to determine whether any public resources were used in Petersen’s adoption business or in the crimes he’s accused of. 

Petersen, an attorney who specializes in adoptions, faces charges from Arizona, Utah and federal prosecutors in Arkansas.

Gates said he expects the audit to be completed early next week.

Once that audit is finished, Gates said the board can determine its next step, including whether to try to remove Petersen from office. Though statute does not appear to give the supervisors the power to remove Petersen permanently, Gates noted that state law allows them to temporarily suspend him. 

That law permits county supervisors to suspend their assessors and treasurers for up to 120 days for misuse of public funds or neglect of duty. After 120 days, the suspended official must be reinstated unless he or she is indicted by a grand jury for “willful or corrupt misconduct in office.” 

“There are certain statutes that could be utilized in certain circumstances. But again, in the end, that’s going to be a decision of the board based upon the facts as they’ve been presented both in the audit and other information that is available to us.”

Petersen’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”


  1. Just the fact he did not show up for work he should be fired. Not that he has not been convicted. Everyone is disgusted he is making money while sitting in jail. How many taxpayers would be just as upset that the board of nursing has a full time attorney on staff but is not by statue any agency that is authorized one ? how much salary is this person making? and why hasn’t someone done something ? Another agency that is not following what they are in existence for .


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here