Shawn Sheikhan receives four-year sentence in illegal cannabis-dispensary case

Shahram Sean Sheikhan 2022 WSOP Main Event Day 2D
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: November 06, 2023 05:59 PST

Well-known poker players Shahram "Shawn" Sheikhan, who rose to fame during his run to the final two tables of the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event, has been sentenced to four years in a federal prison for his role in operating an illegal cannabis dispensary near San Diego between 2019 and 2022.

Sheikhan received the sentence Friday morning in a US District Court of Southern California courtroom before presiding judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo. Sheikhan's sentencing hearing had been pushed back on several occasions after he pled guilty in June 2022 to a felony charge of illegal drug distriution through the operation of Cannaland, a marijuana dispensary that operated in an unincorporared part of San Diego County where such distribution businesses are illegal.

Sheikhan faced as much as a 40-year sentence and could have been fined as much as $5 million in the case, but he agreed to a $191,020 forfeiture as part of the plea deal. His prominent defense team, the Las Vegas-based law firm of Chesnoff and Schonfeld, argued that he should have received only probation in the case, while prosecutors sought an eight-year sentence. The four-year term Judge Bencivengo selected neatly split that gap in sentencing recommendations.

Sabriana Williams, who co-operated the Cannaland facility along with Sheikhan and who also pled guilty in 2022, received an 18-month sentence in a parallel sentencing before Judge Bencivengo on an equivalent felony charge.

January 2024 surrender date set for Sheikhan

Sheikhan, now 54, remains free on self-recognizance but must surrender to a yet-to-be designated federal Bureau of Prisons facility or a US Marshals office on January 8, 2024. That will immediately be followed by a bond-exoneration hearing on January 12, 2024 before Judge Bencivengo.

The four-year sentence term will not be appealed, according to a docket minute note stating that Sheikhan waived his right to appeal the sentence ruling. Following his release from prison, Sheikhan will receive three more years of supervised probation, with the standard set of probationary conditions applied. Those conditions generally include periodic drug testing and a prohibition on weapons ownership.

Sheikhan has continued to play occasional WSOP events ever since his big score in 2005, which resulted in a career-best $600,000 payday. He has participated in the Main Event in addition to lowball and stud tournaments, which are his favorite formats. His most recent cash came in 2021 in the WSOP's $10,000 2-7 Lowball Draw Championship.

Featured image source: Haley Hintze