A legal-weed startup in Nevada that’s been dogged by reports of links to President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is denying any connection to the embattled lawyer, VICE News has learned.
Chicago taxi mogul Semyon “Sam” Shtayner, 63, and his wife reportedly borrowed $26 million in recent years from Cohen and his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman — just as Shtayner was launching a legal weed venture in Henderson, Nevada.
“Michael Cohen is not now nor has he ever been a ‘business associate’ of mine,” Shtayner writes in a document sent to Henderson city officials and obtained by VICE News. “Like a bank loans money to borrowers, he simply loaned me money years ago.”
Founded in 2016, Shtayner’s Cannaboss LLC took a majority stake in a Nevada-based firm with licenses to grow cannabis and produce marijuana-infused edibles and smokable pot, according to local and state records reviewed by VICE News. The company has been busily setting up a 31,642-square-foot cultivation and production facility just 20 minutes from the Las Vegas strip.
But in April, his plan hit a snag: Press reports emerged, citing public records, that Shtayner and his wife, Yasya, borrowed millions from Cohen and Shusterman, with installments made as recently as March. CNN reported that Shtayner and his wife were also identified in the search warrant the FBI used to raid Cohen’s office and hotel room in April, apparently due to their connection with Cohen through his investments in the Chicago taxi industry.