PORTLAND A federal grand jury Thursday indicted 18 people, including a former Coos County sheriff's deputy and his wife, a Romanian princess, in connection with a cockfighting operation in eastern Oregon.
The arrests happened around Oregon and Washington after the defendants allegedly sponsored ten cockfighting derbies, which took place between April, 2012 and May, 2013, court documents show.
John Wesley Walker, 67, who the Coos County Sheriff's Office confirmed was a former deputy, and Irina Walker, 60, are subject to the forfeiture of their property in Irrigon (near Pendleton, Ore.) and buildings used in the gambling business.
Irina Walker, also known as Irina Kreuger, is the third daughter Michael, the last king of Romania. On the list of top 100 British royals, she is 95th in succession to Queen Elizabeth. King Michael is the great-great grandson of Queen Victoria and third cousins with the Queen.
Both pleaded not guilty in court Friday. A jury trial was set for October 15.
The federal indictment released Thursday outlines the intricate world of cockfighting, which involves not only gambling, but a complex network of promoters, handlers, referees, spectators and even concession workers who sell food and drink.
Knives or other sharp instruments are attached to the legs of the roosters, which then fight each other to the death in a pit surrounded by spectators. If a losing rooster is not killed in the fight, it is almost always killed after the fight, the indictment reads.
Cockfighting is illegal under federal law and under the laws of all 50 states, Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, stated. Besides being a barbaric practice, cockfighting jeopardizes public health and safety and facilitates the commission of other criminal acts.
John Wesley Walker and Irina Walker were charged along with four others on operating an illegal gambling business. Those six defendants were charged with 12 others on unlawful animal fighting charges.