Judge Halts Deportation Proceedings Against Las Vegas Poker Pro

An immigration judge halted deportation proceedings against a Nevada poker pro and Iranian citizen stemming from a 1995 conviction that officials said involved charges of sexual battery and annoyance or molestation of a child.

U.S. Immigration Court Judge Harry Gastley ruled Thursday that the federal Department of Homeland Security failed to provide enough documentation to determine whether Shahram "Shawn" Sheikhan committed a deportable offense.

The federal Department of Homeland Security has until Dec. 17 to
appeal Gastley's decision. Attorneys for the department declined

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought to deport Sheikhan, 38, because of a 1995 misdemeanor conviction in Contra Costa County, Calif. Government lawyers said federal law provides for deportation for conviction "of two crimes involving moral turpitude not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct."

Gastley said he was unable to tell what Sheikhan had been convicted of, and whether it had been by a jury, judge or plea deal.

Sheikhan served nine months in jail and five years of probation for a 1995 conviction, immigration officials said.

Contra Costa County officials told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that they don't keep misdemeanor case files for more than 10 years.

Review-Journal lawyers successfully fought to have Sheikhan's immigration hearing opened to the media.

Luther Snavely, Sheikhan's immigration attorney, said Sheikhan was a legal U.S. resident and always maintained his innocence.

David Chesnoff, another Sheikhan attorney, said allegations in that case were "blown out of proportion."

Sheikhan had been arrested at his Las Vegas home Aug. 30, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, and jailed for more than a week before being released on a $10,000 bond.

Sheikhan is known for his sometimes confrontational attitude at the poker table and for verbal sparring with rival Mike Matusow at the 2005 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

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