PORTLAND, Oregon — A member of the Royal Family of Romania and a former deputy have pleaded guilty for their involvement in an Oregon cockfighting operation.
John and Irina Walker were among 18 people arrested in August 2013 as part of an investigation into organized cockfights in Morrow County.
Investigators said the couple hosted the “derbies” between April 1, 2012 and May 19, 2013.
Prosecutors said they attached knives or other sharp objects to the legs of roosters and forced them to fight in front of large crowds inside a barn on their Irrigon property.
A federal indictment said the animals would fight to the death, but if a losing rooster did not die, it would almost always be killed afterward.
The cockfighting derbies could last for hours, the indictment stated.
Prosecutors said alcohol and food was served during the fights and people were charged $20 to attend.
The federal indictment stated the operation would bring in gross revenue of $2,000 or more per derby.
The Walkers agreed to a plea deal and pleaded guilty to one count each of operating an illegal gambling business Wednesday. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22.
At the time of the arrest, the Romanian Royal Family posted a message on their website identifying Irina Walker as a Romanian princess. The translated message said: “His Majesty King Michael I noted with deep sorrow about the events related to Princess Irina of Romania, daughter. His Majesty and the Royal Family hopes justice throughout American and Oregon State courts will settle the just and fastest way possible.”
On Thursday, another message was posted on the website. Through Google Translate, it says, in part: “His Majesty King Michael took note with deep sadness the situation regarding HRH Princess Irina, daughter. His Majesty and the royal family appreciates the efforts of all involved, and the American judicial system to carry out legal proceedings, respecting the right of defense.”
John Walker worked as a deputy with the Coos County Sheriff’s Office from August 1998 through June 2003.
The Walkers did not make a statement outside the courthouse Wednesday.