Romanian Princess Admits to Running an Illegal Oregon Cockfighting Ring
Irina Walker, 61, pleaded guilty to charges she ran an illegal gambling ring this past Wednesday. Irina Walker, who lives in Oregon, is also a Romanian princess. Walker and her husband pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling operation, but had other counts dropped in a plea bargain arrangement. The other charges involved serious offenses relating to animal fighting and animal welfare. The two face probation sentences and the seizure of $200,000 in assets.
Irina Walker’s husband, the 68 year old John, is a former sheriff’s deputy. His and her status may have aided in receiving a lesser punishment for their crimes. Sentencing for the couple is scheduled for October 22, 2014.
Hosted Cockfighting Derbies
The two organized “cockfighting derbies” on their ranch in Irrigon, Oregon. They are believed to have hosted at least 10 of the derbies, which attracted more than 100 attendees apiece. Those who attended were charged a $20 entrance fee.
Details of the Fights
The roosters had knives strapped to their legs to make the battle deadlier, then were forced to fight one another until one of them died. Because of the weapons used, both roosters often die of their wounds during a cock fight.
Besides the $2,000-plus collected in entrance fees, the Walkers also sold food and beverages at their cockfighting derbies. Apparently, Irina Walker supplied food in the early-going. After spectators found the food too sparse for their tastes, a woman was hired to cook Mexican food for the attendees.
Plea Bargain Terms
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer, the Walkers agreed to sell their eastern Oregon ranch and pay the government $200,000, in exchange for maintaining their freedom. The couple is said to have held the first few fights outside their ranch, but they eventually built an arena-like structure inside one of their barns, where they held the contests.
Cockfighting in the USA
Cockfighting is illegal under federal law, while all 50 U.S. states ban the activity. Despite the ban, cockfighting remains a popular betting activity in numerous US states. While it is seen as a pastime in the rural south, the current incident shows it is popular in the northwest. On July 14, a cockfighting ring was busted in Philadelphia, with 20 dead birds and 18 roosters removed from the facility in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Cockfighting is popular in many other countries, ranging from Mexico to the Philippines.
Irina Walker’s Lineage
Irina Walker is fifth in line to the throne of the Romanian family. The throne has been vacant since Irina’s father, King Michael I, was forced to abdicate by the communist-controlled Romanian government in 1947. Michael was born in 1921 and remains alive to this day. He was the Romanian king from 1927 until 1930, then became the king again from 1940 until 1947. Michael is a great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria I of the British Empire and is the third cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, the current monarch of the United Kingdom.
The Romanian kingdom was formed in 1878, when Wallachia and Moldova were combined out of Ottoman Turkish provinces and joined together as one kingdom. The Romanians had sought such a union since at least 1821, but had been thwarted from doing so by the Turks. In the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, the Romanians joined the Russian side. Choosing the winning side resulted in the establishment of the Romanian kingdom. Karl, a prince of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen of Germany (Prussia), was installed as King Carol I. King Michael I also was considered a Hohenzollern prince until 2011, when he renounced the title.
Deposed Royals throughout History
People often spin romantic tales of deposed royals, such as the urban legends of Princess Anastasia of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. Despite the Russian tsar and his entire nuclear family being murdered by the Bolsheviks (and Anastasia almost certainly among them), stories swirled for decades that one of the princesses was alive. At least one pretender to the title appeared, though her claim was later disproved using DNA evidence.
Other deposed royals have gone on to live distinguished lives in exile. Prince Georges V. Matchabelli was a Georgian prince and ambassador to Italy who fled capture by the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution. He immigrated to New York City, married a New York actress, and opened a small antiques shop on Madison Avenue. Prince Georges was also an amateur chemist who designed perfumes in his shop in Manhattan. In 1926, he founded the Prince Matchabelli perfume line. In 1936, he sold the line for $250,000. By the 1980’s, the Prince Matchabelli perfume line had domestic sales of $140 million per year. The line is now owned by Parfums de Coeur.
Louis Napoleon was the nephew of the great Napoleon Bonaparte. After a failed coup attempt in 1830, Louis Napoleon lived in exile in England. In 1848, the year of revolution in Europe, he was voted French president. In 1852, he crowned himself Napoleon III, Emperor of the second French Empire, as the Bonaparte’s recognized Napoleon I’s son as the King of Rome. Napoleon III remained emperor for 18 more years, until he was deposed in the Franco-Prussian War.
Not all exiled royals go on to live glamorous and successful lives. Most live in obscurity, with few ever knowing their royal lineage. Few become criminals, like Irina Walker.
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