Royal Fall for Princess Accused of Cockfighting
PORTLAND, Ore. - Princess Irina Walker, the daughter of the last king of Romania, was hobnobbing two years ago with European royalty in Bucharest to celebrate the 90th birthday of her regal father.
On Friday, she and her husband - a former Oregon sheriff’s deputy - are expected to appear in court to face charges of running a cockfighting business on their ranch in Eastern Oregon.
Government prosecutors say Irina and John Walker staged at least 10 cockfighting derbies between April 2012 and April 2013, bringing in as much as $2,000 a day. Blades were attached to the birds’ legs, spectators were charged admission, and food and drink were sold, the indictment said.
Irina Walker, 60, is the third daughter of former Romanian King Michael I. The 91-year-old Michael, one of the few surviving heads of state from World War II, was forced to abdicate by the communists in 1947. Sent into exile, he lived in Switzerland and worked as a commercial pilot and briefly as a chicken farmer.
According to a statement on the royal family’s website, King Michael expressed "deep sorrow" about Princess Irina being arrested and hopes that the American justice system and Oregon courts will act as quickly as possible. He does not mention his son-in-law and adds he hopes the presumption of innocence will function.
The Walkers are charged with operating an illegal gambling business and conspiracy to violate the federal Animal Welfare Act. Each of the offenses carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Federal prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of the ranch.
Authorities arrested 16 other people in the case.
Irina Walker moved to the U.S. from Switzerland in 1983 with her former-husband John Kreuger, according to her daughter, Angelica Kreuger of Myrtle Point, Ore. She said her parents were school friends in Europe and her father fell in love with Oregon.
Angelica Kreuger said her mother is proud of her heritage - she keeps a large picture of her father in the living room - but never lived a lavish lifestyle. As for herself, Kreuger said being the child of a princess only got her picked on in school.