Irrigon Couple Among 18 People Indicted for Cockfighting Ring - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Irrigon Couple Among 18 People Indicted for Cockfighting Ring

Posted: Updated:

IRRIGON, Ore. - A Romanian princess and a former sheriff's deputy made their first appearance in federal court Friday in Portland. The two are among more than a dozen people in Eastern Oregon and Washington who have been indicted on cockfighting charges.

John and Irina Walker, along with four others, were arraigned Friday afternoon in Portland. According to court documents, cockfights took place just outside Irrigon for more than a year and the Walkers allegedly held those events at their ranch.

The quiet town of Irrigon is home to just 1,700 people. Federal investigators are now saying it was also home to at least ten cockfights over the last year.

"It's so tight knit and small and everybody knows everybody, this was the last place I'd ever expect cock fights to happen," said Kyle Sells who lives nearby.

Neighbors of the Walker's said they had no idea what was happening but that at times there were large crowds on the Walkers property.

The alleged cockfighting ring stretched from Irrigon and Hermiston to Yakima. A total of 18 defendants, mostly men, are named in the indictments. 

Prosecutors allege there was a referee in charge, food and drink was sold at the events and that the promoters kept a 'house fee.'

The documents say the chickens involved wore knives or other sharp objects and were put in a ring where they would fight to the death with crowds on hand to watch.

60-year-old Irina Walker pleaded not guilty to operating the cockfighting business on Friday.

"I hope that there's not any more that come out of the wood work but I hope these guys get punished to the full extent because it's just wrong what they've done," said Sells.

John and Irina Walker, along with the four others arraigned Friday, are charged with operating an illegal gambling business and unlawful animal fighting ventures. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.