October 23, 2014 / 8:55 PM / 4 years ago

Romanian princess, husband sentenced for Oregon cockfighting ring

PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - A princess fifth in line for the Romanian throne and her husband who admitted running a cockfighting ring in rural Oregon have both sentenced to probation and ordered to forfeit $200,000 from the sale of the property, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.

Irina Walker and her husband John Walker pleaded guilty in July to one count of running an illegal gambling operation with at a barn-like structure on their ranch in Irrigon, near the Washington state border, where they held cockfighting “derbies.”

Prosecutors said the cockfighting events came complete with a chef cooking Mexican food and alcoholic drinks. They said the Walkers charged attendees $20, while participants paid $1,000 to enter up to five roosters in fights.

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that saw additional charges dropped, the couple admitted to financing, supervising and owning the cockfighting venture during 2012 and 2013.

They were each sentenced on Wednesday to three years probation, according to prosecutors and court documents. The Walkers also agreed to sell the ranch where the fights were held and forfeit $200,000 worth of proceeds. They were allowed to keep a smaller parcel where they lived.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer said the operation was broken up by authorities using informants who wore hidden cameras to document the illegal activities.

“Its obviously an important case in terms of enforcing law against cockfighting and animal abuse, Peifer said. “It carried with it the danger of people coming in with weapons and drugs and what have you, and we know for fact there were weapons and drugs on the premises” during the derbies.

The Walkers were originally charged with 12 counts including operating an illegal gaming business, conspiracy and violating the Animal Welfare Act.

Defense attorneys for the Walkers could not be reached for comment.

Romania is a republic, but its historic royal family maintains special legal and symbolic status within the country, according to the official website of the Romanian Royal House.

Irina Walker is the one of five daughters of exiled former Romanian King Michael, who went into exile after being forced to abdicate in 1947. She was born in Switzerland.

Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by David Gregorio

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