PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - A Romanian
princess and her husband pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one charge of
running an illegal gambling operation for their involvement in a
cockfighting ring in rural Oregon.
Irina Walker, 61, daughter of exiled former Romanian King Michael,
and her husband John Walker, 68, appeared in federal court in
Portland in connection with cockfights they held in Irrigon, Oregon,
in 2012 and 2013.
They had originally denied any wrongdoing, but Assistant U.S.
Attorney Stephen Peifer said that, under the agreement to change
their plea, the couple will sell their ranch and forfeit $200,000 to
the government in lieu of incarceration.
Cockfighting is illegal under federal law, and under the laws of
The Walkers were originally charged with 12 counts including
operating an illegal gaming business, conspiracy and violating the
Animal Welfare Act.
Each count had carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison
and a fine of $250,000.
They initially held the contests outside at their ranch but later
built a barn-like structure "used as an arena," Peifer told the
court. He said they rented portable toilets, hired someone to cook
Mexican food, and also sold alcoholic drinks.
Peifer said they also pocketed a $20 entry fee collected from
He said the government was recommending three years of probation but
that Judge Michael Mossman would have the final word when the couple
are sentenced on Oct. 22.