Shawn Sheikhan sentenced to four years in prison for marijuana distribution

This is a big refrigeration business

Shawn Sheikhan, whose poker claim to fame consisted of being insufferable at the table in the mid-2000s, was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in running a drug distribution company. Sheikhan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana in June 2022. He must surrender to the authorities by January 1, 2024.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California last June, when Sheikhan was convicted, he and Sabriana Williams operated an illegal marijuana business called “Cannaland” that primarily supplied marijuana and related products to unlicensed dispensaries in Southern California.

The company also helped sell marijuana itself to customers.

In April 2021, law enforcement officers searched Cannaland and found over 3,000 marijuana with a street value of more than $6 million, as well as five firearms. Sometime after the officers conducted the search, Sheikhan and Williams obtained additional weapons to arm their security forces and continue the operation.

Sheikhan faced up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Four years is still a hefty sentence, but a far cry from 40 years. He also had to forfeit $300,000 in cash.

His lawyers hoped the judge would be lenient and demand fair probation for their client. They argued that he had shown remorse and that California’s marijuana laws had changed since Sheikhan committed the crimes. Some poker pros wrote letters of support, including PokerGO President Mori Eskandani.

A poker character

Thanks to his television appearances, Sheikhan was something of a star in the poker world in the mid-1980s. His big break came in the Main Event of the 2005 World Series of Poker, where he finished 11th. On his way to almost making it to the final table, he clashed with Mike “The Mouth” Matusow.

There were only three tables left in the Main Event when Sheikhan dealt a hand preflop. However, when he saw the flop, he slammed his fist on the table and said something to his rail, clearly indicating that he had made a hand. Matusow, who was still holding the hand, was angry and told Sheikhan to shut up because the hand was still in progress. Sheikhan continued talking to The Mouth and after the hand, Matusow lit him up.

(Note: I was actually there, covering the WSOP for the first time. I believe I’m quoted but not mentioned in a book commenting on Sheikhan’s behavior, although I’d have to dig through my poker books to find it, because it it’s been a long time.)

The two received a ten-minute penalty for their behavior. Matusow ultimately eliminated Sheikhan from the tournament.

After the 2005 WSOP, Sheikhan played up his role as poker’s bad boy and appeared on several poker television shows. He won $600,000 for his Main Event finish and has won a total of about $1.6 million in live tournaments in his career.

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