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Ex-Arizona Gov. Brewer shocked by Maricopa County assessor’s arrest

Paul D. Petersen (Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Assessor's Office)

PHOENIX – Jan Brewer has known Paul Petersen “since he was a young kid” and used to call him “Tall Paul.”

Brewer, Arizona’s former governor, said she was stunned to learn the Maricopa County assessor had been implicated in an adoption fraud scheme.

“I do know him, and I knew his father, who was Arizona’s treasurer,” Brewer told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Wednesday afternoon. “And it’s just shocking and almost unbelievable that something of this magnitude showed up this morning on the news.”

Petersen, 44, was arrested Tuesday after a multi-state investigation and accused of recruiting, transporting and offering to pay pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to adopt out their babies in the U.S.

A 32-count indictment said Petersen falsely claimed the women were Arizona residents to get them state-funded health care coverage, bilking Arizona’s Medicaid system more than $800,000.

“They’ve got a case,” Brewer said. “It does not look good. He’s in big trouble, in my opinion.”

Brewer said she remembered Petersen as a “decent kid” when he was growing up.

“For him to end up in this cesspool, this mess, you know it’s heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what his family’s feeling or his children or his wife,” she said.

Brewer said she never would have expected Petersen to wind up in this kind of trouble.

“People in politics for some reason, people in business for some reason, they get offered an opportunity and the greed, the God-almighty dollar, steps in and takes over and that’s obviously what had happened here,” she said. “Surely he knew what he was doing was wrong.”

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