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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – A former Arizona official accused of running an illegal adoption program in three states involving women from the Marshall Islands changes his case in Arkansas.

A federal judge held a hearing on Tuesday for Paul Petersen, a Republican who was the assessor of Maricopa County for six years until his resignation in January.

Petersen pleaded guilty last week to charges of smuggling and fraud in Arizona and Utah.

He has been charged with illegally paying women from the Pacific island group to come to the United States to give up their babies in at least 70 adoption cases in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas for three years. Citizens of the Marshall Islands have been prohibited from traveling to the United States for adoption purposes since 2003.

Petersen was sued in Arkansas last year for multiple fraud and smuggling charges. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in October.

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