Shahram “Shawn” Sheikhan, once a rising star in the world of poker, is set for an April judgement in a drug distribution case that could see him facing significant prison time. The controversial figure rose to fame in the mid-2000s during the televised poker boom, but his run-in with the law has left his reputation in tatters.
Shawn Sheikhan Pleads Guilty
In June 2022, Sheikhan and his co-defendant Sabriana Williams pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed and illegal cannabis-distribution business known as “Cannaland” from 2019 to 2022. The operation provided cannabis products to other unlicensed dispensaries in southern California, mostly in and around San Diego, and also served as a dispensary itself with its own direct-to-customer business.
The plea deal requires Sheikhan and Williams to acknowledge having distributed more than 3,000 kilograms of cannabis products over the course of the three years.
The plea deal arose from an extended federal and state investigation, which led to a raid on Sheikhan’s and Williams’ Cannaland outlet in Spring Valley, California, east of San Diego. In the April 2021 raid, agents seized over 3,000 pounds of marijuana that had a street value of more than $6 million. Agents also seized five firearms, and in the continuing investigation, asserted that Sheikhan and Williams “personally coordinated and facilitated the procurement of replacement firearms for the business’s armed security guards” while also continuing Cannaland’s operations.
Authorities also discovered $109,000 in a separate search on a San Diego high-rise apartment associated with Sheikhan. That money was confiscated as part of the plea deal, though Sheikhan still faces a fine of at least $5 million as part of his April sentencing.
40 Years in Prison
According to a press statement issued in June by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, Sheikhan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Due to the volume involved, he is facing up to 40 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, in addition to the $5 million fine. Sheikhan’s co-defendant Williams is facing a 20-year maximum sentence.
This isn’t the first time Sheikhan has found himself in legal trouble. In 1995, he was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery on a child under 18 years of age and was sentenced to nine months behind bars plus five years of probation. In 2007, the US Department of Homeland Security began deportation proceedings against him due to his prior conviction but his attorneys successfully quashed those deportation proceedings later that same year. Sheikhan has been a resident alien since immigrating to the United States from Iran at age nine.
In the poker world, Sheikhan is perhaps best known for his appearance at the 2005 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, where he made the final two tables and got embroiled in some heavy verbal sparring with Mike “The Mouth” Matusow. Sheikhan ended up finishing in 11th place in that event for a career-best $600,000 score.
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