Convicted lawyer in 'Marshallese babies for sale' scheme awaits sentencing in two other states


Lynwood Jennet and Paul Petersen

Lawyer, Arizona elected official and former missionary to the Marshall Islands Paul Petersen has received six years in federal prison from the state of Arkansas for arranging illegal adoptions of Marshallese babies. He still faces up to 31.5 years more in total from trials in Utah and Arizona for the same crimes.


Timothy Banks, a federal judge in Arkansas, handed Petersen the sentence over video.

Petersen’s crime involved the illegal transport of individuals into the U.S. for private profit. There were estimated to be at least 70 cases, from which he took in over $2.7 million from adoptive parents.


Petersen claimed that he did not know what he did was illegal. However, he gave statements to government officials which he knew to be false in several states while arranging adoptions. Statements included dates of mothers’ arrivals and residencies.


Further discrediting the claim of ignorance is that the defendant also was a practicing attorney who was for six years the assess