Romanian princess pleads guilty in cockfighting case

PORTLAND – Romanian princess Irina Walker pleaded guilty Wednesday to operating an illegal gambling business in connection with a cockfighting enterprise in rural Oregon.

Walker and her husband, John, accepted plea deals in which the government dismissed charges of animal fighting and conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act. Sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 22. The government recommends a sentence of probation for both Walkers, along with the forfeiture of $200,000.

Irina Walker, 61, is the third daughter of former Romanian King Michael I, who was forced to abdicate by communists in 1947.

She admitted to U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman that she profited from a gambling venture in which roosters had knives attached to their legs and fought to the death.

“I provided food and beverage, your honor, and the location,” she said. The Walkers were arrested last summer after authorities said they staged at least 10 cockfighting derbies in a barn at their ranch in Irrigon, 175 miles east of Portland and just south of Washington.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer said the Walkers charged spectators $20 to enter and the crowds generally exceeded 100 people. The couple also made money from the sale of alcohol.

Irina Walker initially made food for the spectators, Peifer said. But when her dishes proved unpopular, John Walker brought on a woman to make crowd-pleasing tacos and burritos.

More than a dozen other people were indicted in the case. Charges against the woman who made the Mexican food were later dropped and two defendants remain fugitives.

Everyone else pleaded guilty, either in Oregon or Washington.


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