updated 2/23/2007 7:29:40 PM ET 2007-02-24T00:29:40

A man who allegedly dumped more than 70 dead dogs, cats and other animals from a northern Virginia pet crematorium on national forest lands in West Virginia has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Ronald Lee Henry Jr., 39, of Woodstock, Va., could get 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of willful depredation of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, said U.S. Attorney Sharon L. Potter.

The indictment handed up earlier this week in Elkins says the dumping of "carcasses and related trash" occurred on Dec. 30, 2005, along a road in Hardy County.

JoBeth Brown, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service in Roanoke, Va., declined comment on the case Friday, but Hardy County Sheriff Robert Ferrell said Henry was working for a crematorium at the time.

"Instead of burying or cremating the dear little darlings, he was dumping them alongside the road," Ferrell said.

Animals were also dumped on private property in neighboring Hampshire County, but that case was handled through Circuit Court, where the prosecutor's office said Henry was charged with unlawful disposal of litter.

Circuit Judge Donald Cookman initially sentenced Henry to a year in jail. Last week, however, Cookman suspended that sentence, ordering Henry to serve 90 days in jail, perform community service and spend five years on probation.

Russell D. Harman, owner of Family Pet Cremations in Chantilly, Va., acknowledged Henry was working for him as a subcontractor at the time of the West Virginia offenses, but he declined to comment on the federal indictment.

"I'm just glad it's over," he said Friday.

The animal carcasses were found in large piles — some in boxes, some in bags, some still with intravenous tubes and other medical equipment attached to their bodies.

At the time, a spokeswoman for the crematorium said Harman had hired the subcontractor after his crematory equipment stopped working properly.

Harman also issued a written statement then, vowing to review his "outsourcing policies and procedures to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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