PORTLAND, Ore. – A Romanian princess was sentenced Wednesday to probation after apologizing for her role in a cockfighting enterprise that she said brought shame to her and her family.
“I’m very sorry about my involvement in this business,” Irina Walker told a federal judge before she was given three years’ probation. “It was not my intention to go against the law.”
She and her husband John Walker both pleaded guilty in July to operating an illegal gambling business. John Walker, a former sheriff’s deputy, was also sentenced to probation by U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman.
As part of the plea deal, the Walkers agreed to sell real estate and pay $200,000 to the government.
Irina Walker, 61, is the third daughter of former Romanian King Michael I, who was forced to abdicate by communists in 1947.
The judge agreed to let the Walkers travel internationally during their probation after their attorneys said the 93-year-old former king has health problems and Irina wants to visit while he’s still alive.
The Walkers were arrested in 2013 after authorities said they staged at least 10 cockfighting derbies in a barn at their ranch.
The Walkers charged spectators each $20 to watch roosters with knives attached to their legs fight to the death. Crowds generally exceeded 100 people, and the couple also made money from the sale of alcohol.
Authorities said the people who brought roosters paid $1,000 to enter the fights, and the prizes ranged from $10,000 to $18,000. The person whose roosters won the most matches took home the money, except for 10 per cent kept by referees.
More than a dozen other people were indicted in the case. Charges against a woman who made food were later dropped, and two suspects remain fugitives – Ruben Saltos Godina, known as Chino; and Antonio Dominguez Robles, known as Tono.
Everyone else pleaded guilty either in Oregon or Washington state.
Irina Walker moved to the U.S. from Switzerland in the early 1980s with her former husband John Kreuger, according to her daughter Angelica Kreuger, who said her mother raised two children while living for many years in Coos County in southwest Oregon.
The princess later divorced her husband and married Walker, a family friend and neighbour. The couple moved to sparsely populated Irrigon and lived in a triple-wide manufactured home.