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Posted on: December 31, 2019

[ARCHIVED] Boards Sustains Suspension of Assessor Paul Petersen

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The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted to sustain the 120-day suspension of Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen and recommended the County Attorney pursue removal of the Assessor for willful misconduct in office.

This vote comes after the Board received the final investigative report into Assessor Paul Petersen’s use of County resources. A preliminary report regarding whether Petersen neglected his duty as County Assessor was completed on December 5, 2019. The supplemental report filed December 26, 2019 adds a forensic analysis of the Maricopa County Surface Laptop issued to Petersen.

The final report lists a total of four statutes that Mr. Petersen potentially violated:

  • Destruction of or tampering with public records in violation of A.R.S. 38-365, A.R.S. 38-421 and A.R.S. 13-2407.
  • Criminal damage in violation of A.R.S. 13-1602.
  • Tampering with physical evidence in violation of A.R.S. 13-2809.

The analysis found:

  • Someone wiped the laptop twice with a factory reset or system upgrade.
    • The first time was October 30, the day after Petersen was released from jail.
    • The second time was November 12, 2019.
  • Despite limited data available on the laptop, more than two thousand documents were identified related to Mr. Petersen’s private law and adoption business.
  • Medical records, adoption documents and text message records related to his private adoption business including:
    • A message from Mr. Petersen stating: “All you girls work for me, not the other way around.”
    • Messages from Mr. Petersen to women who had changed their minds about giving up their babies, including:
      • Mr. Petersen advising that he will remove his name from the apartment causing the woman to be evicted.
      • Mr. Petersen advising that he could sever the parental rights of a father who will not sign adoption papers.

The Board of Supervisors believes Mr. Petersen's absence from the office while detained in October and the analysis of his use of County phones and computers for his private legal and adoption businesses supports the conclusion that Mr. Petersen neglected his duty as the assessor. He also used the County laptop after the Board of Supervisors voted to suspend him on October 28.

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