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Iran immigrant faces deportation

Professional poker player Shahram "Shawn" Sheikhan, an Iranian citizen who lives in Las Vegas and owns several businesses, is facing possible deportation over a 1995 conviction on charges of sexual battery and annoyance or molestation of a child.

Immigration officials arrested Sheikhan at his Las Vegas home on Aug. 30, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.

He was held for more than a week at the North Las Vegas Detention Center before being released on a $10,000 bond.

Federal authorities said they're looking to deport Sheikhan because of the 1995 misdemeanor conviction in Contra Costa County, Calif.

"This individual was targeted for ICE arrest because of his criminal history," Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an e-mail message Wednesday. "ICE has an ongoing initiative called Operation Predator targeting individuals, including foreign nationals, who prey upon and sexually exploit children."

Kice said immigration officials believe Sheikhan's conviction is "a deportable offense, but ultimately it will be up to an immigration judge to make that determination."

"We want to see him removed from the United States," she said later Wednesday.

Sheikhan, a 38-year-old legal permanent U.S. resident, declined to comment through his lawyer, David Chesnoff, on Tuesday. But Chesnoff said Sheikhan is fighting deportation.

"We're going to do everything in our power to prevent this," he said.

Chesnoff said he also is considering "revisiting the California case based on constitutional issues, including ineffective counsel."

He wouldn't comment on the specifics of that case and did not return a call seeking further comment on Wednesday.

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

Sheikhan is known for his sometimes confrontational attitude at the poker table. He reached the final table at the 2005 World Series of Poker main event, where he verbally sparred with another player, Mike Matusow.

Sheikhan owns six local Diversity shops that sell tattoos, piercings, clothing and other items.

He was born in Iran but came to the United States when he was 9, according to court documents.

He has been a legal permanent U.S. resident since 1983, is married to a U.S. citizen and has a 9-year-old daughter.

Sheikhan and his wife own a home in the Canyon Gate Country Club, near Sahara Avenue and Durango Drive, according to Clark County Assessor's records.

Court documents indicate that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security believes Sheikhan is "subject to removal from the United States" in part based on a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows deportation for conviction "of two crimes involving moral turpitude not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct."

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