Nevada Marijuana Grower Questioned for His Connection to Trump Fixer Michael Cohen

The grower has been caught in the probe into brand fraud and campaign-violence

Photo Credit: By Blacklist21 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A licensed marijuana grower in Nevada named Semyon "Sam" Shtayner is under scrutiny for his ties to Michael Cohen, the president's personal attorney and fixer. Local officials in Henderson, Nev., recently questioned Shtayner, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Shtayner informed officials that Cohen did not have any involvement with his marijuana enterprise, but did say that Cohen and his family had loaned him some money to help buy taxi medallions.

Cohen “absolutely and unequivocally has no connection to my Marijuana Facilities,” Shtayner wrote in a statement.

The genesis of their relationship began when Shtayner and Cohen's father-in-law both immigrated from Ukraine and settled in New York, where they both worked in the taxi business.

Shtayner provided a legal statement to city officials explaining his financial relationship with Cohen. According to records reviewed by the Journal, Shtayner borrowed as much as $6 million from Cohen in 2014 and 2015. Shtayner claimed he invested in the pot business because of the downturn of the taxi industry.

Shtayner's connection with Cohen aroused the FBI after the bureau raided Cohen's office and home in earlier April and found records pertaining to Shtayner.  The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI specifically sought documents relating to Shtayner and his wife.

Investigators have been probing Cohen for possible bank fraud and campaign-finance violations.  Cohen has denied any wrongdoing at this point.

Shtayner appears to have satisfied officials in Henderson, who told the Journal. “Staff are no longer looking into anything further related to Mr. Shtayner unless new information is brought to our attention."

Cannabis in Nevada became legal for recreational use on January 1, 2017, having been legalized by ballot initiative in 2016. Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, issued a memo earlier this year that proposed  a federal marijuana crackdown in states that had legalized the substance. States that have legalized pot immediately protested these efforts, resulting in Trump conceding on the issue.

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Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_.