By Jake Pearson and Stephen Braun, Associated Press
(AP) — President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, whose business dealings are being investigated by the FBI, and his father-in-law have lent $26 million in recent years to a taxi mogul who is shifting into the legalized marijuana industry, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Semyon “Sam” Shtayner, a longtime business associate of Michael Cohen’s father-in-law, created Nevada-based Cannaboss LLC the day before the 2016 election. A few months later, he took a majority position in a company that is provisionally licensed to cultivate medicinal marijuana and produce edibles, the records show.
“He personally manages over 500 taxi medallions, but he is looking to transition from the medallion business to the cannibas (sic),” according to the personal narrative Shtayner submitted last October to city officials in Henderson, Nevada, that was obtained by the AP under the state’s public records law.
It’s not clear whether Shtayner used any of the loans — $6 million of which have come directly from Cohen since 2014 — to finance his marijuana grow operation.
Earlier this month, FBI agents searched Cohen’s hotel, office and home seeking banking records, as well as records related to his dealings in the taxi industry, people familiar with the probe told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Public records show the Ukraine-born Shtayner, 63, his wife and companies they control have used their properties in Chicago and Sunny Isles, Florida, as collateral for the loans from Cohen and his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman.
News of Shtayner’s ties to the medical marijuana industry comes as the Trump administration finds itself somewhat split on marijuana policy.
Trump recently indicated he will support a law protecting states that already have legalized the drug — a position counter to that of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who stridently opposes any such effort and in January lifted restrictions that had kept federal prosecutors from pursuing cases against those complying with state marijuana laws.
Marijuana use is fully legal in Nevada, eight other states and Washington, D.C., and 38 states allow medicinal or other limited uses.
It was not clear why Shtayner has decided to move out of taxis and into the marijuana business. But the rapid rise of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry, and Shtayner is among a handful of prominent taxi owners who face lawsuits from creditors who once lent liberally to medallion owners.
The value of medallions — the physical plates affixed to cabs that owners are required to display — have dropped precipitously in recent years from highs of over $1 million apiece in New York just a few years ago to nearly half those amounts today.
Share this story with friends: