PHOENIX - Maricopa County Assessor, Paul Petersen is challenging the Board of Supervisor's decision to suspend him.
Nearly three weeks after the Board of Supervisors suspended Petersen, they voted Wednesday to have the County Attorney's Office investigate and prove Petersen neglected his County Assessor duties and set a hearing date.
"So we're going to be deciding whether the suspension should stand, so this is going to be Mr. Petersen's opportunity to present new information to us that might cause us to come to a different conclusion," said Bill Gates, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman.
Maricopa County Assessor Paul D. Petersen (Courtesy: Maricopa County Assessor's Office)
Petersen is challenging the county's audit, which in part revealed thousands of documents on his county desktop computer related to his private practice.
His attorneys sent a 4-page letter to the board demanding similar records for 13 other county officials, including each county supervisor and Sheriff Paul Penzone, allegedly to show how many hours they work. They also want to subpoena the county officers to testify at the appeal hearing.
"Whoever they want to bring and they can voluntarily bring along to testify, we would invite them to do that, but they don't have the right to force or compel people to appear at this hearing under the statute," said Gates.
Petersen believes he was suspended because of the criminal investigations into his adoption practice, not neglect.
Attorney Kory Langhofer says, "We're looking for a fair investigation and hearing. The hearing before the Board of Supervisors will obviously be a farce, so we'll go to court afterward. Once we're in a neutral forum and have subpoena power, Paul has good odds."
The appeal hearing is set for December 11 at 1:00 p.m.
In connection to his criminal case, Petersen is free on bond, wearing a GPS tracking monitor, and has pleaded not guilty to federal and local charges of human trafficking and adoption fraud.