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Poker Pro Shawn Sheikhan Sentenced To Four Years In Federal Prison

Sheikhan Pleaded Guilty To Running Illegal Marijuana Operation


Shawn SheikhanFans of televised poker may remember Shawn Sheikhan from his frequent appearances on ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker and other shows in the 2000s. He will be away from the game for quite a while, however, after being sentenced to four years in prison last week following a guilty plea to running an illegal cannabis business.

Sheikhan’s attorneys hoped he could avoid prison time and instead receive a sentence that included probation. However, Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo agreed with prosecutors’ request for 48 months behind bars followed by three years of supervised release. He could have faced a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine.

Law Enforcement Busts Major Operation

The case stems from an underground marijuana business that Sheikhan helped operate in Southern California from 2019-22. The business was known as “Cannaland” and acted as a wholesale supplier of marijuana and related products to unlicensed and illegal marijuana dispensaries in Southern California.

Cannaland also served as an unlicensed, illegal marijuana dispensary as well, serving individual customers, according to federal prosecutors.

State and federal law enforcement, including the FBI and IRS, conducted an investigation into the operation. During a search of the business in Spring Valley, California, officers seized more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $6 million, along with five firearms.

Even after the search was executed, prosecutors said Sheikhan and business partner Sabriana Williams obtained replacement firearms for the operation’s security guards and continued to run their business. As part of plea agreements last June, Sheikhan, Williams, and others involved admitted to drug, firearm, and money laundering charges.

“The FBI is committed to keeping our communities safe from the vast array of violent crimes and criminal activity which accompanies these illegal establishments,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy said at the time of the plea deal.

Sheikhan also owned and ran a chain of tattoo and tobacco shops in Las Vegas.

Poker Winnings, Other Brushes With Law

At the poker tables, Sheikhan has more than $1.6 million in live tournament winnings. His biggest finish came in the 2005 WSOP main event, where he took 11th for $600,000.

Appearing regularly on show’s like High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark, Sheikhan’s televised poker appearances often included some friction with other players including Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth.

As part of his agreement with prosecutors, Sheikhan forfeited $300,000 in cash, much of that in casino chips. He is now ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service by Jan. 1 to begin his sentence.

This isn’t Sheikhan’s first run-in with the law. In 1995 when he was 26, he was convicted of sexual battery and annoyance or molestation of a 17-year-old in California. Sheikhan served nine months in jail and five years of probation for the crime, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. That later prompted deportation proceedings against the Iranian-born Sheikhan in 2007, but he was ultimately allowed to stay in the country.