The U.S. Attorney's Office and the National Park Service announced the indictment on Tuesday against 37-year-old Steven Clay Romero of Grand Junction and his sister, 32-year-old Melissa Marie Lockhart of Fruita.
Romero is in federal custody and an arrest warrant was issued for Lockhart.
Federal prosecutors say Romero is due in court Wednesday - the same day an animal rights activist plans to deliver 100,000 signatures seeking harsh penalties against the brother and sister, if convicted. The signatures were collected on a petition on Facebook.
The federal indictment alleges Romero knowingly tortured and needlessly mutilated and killed Buddy the dog by dragging it behind a vehicle at the Colorado National Monument sometime between Dec. 29 and 30. The indictment says Romero tied a rope around the bumper of a vehicle and the other end around Buddy's neck, driving and dragging the animal until it was dead.
It goes on to say Lockhart knew about the crime between Dec. 30 and 31, but concealed it by making false statements to law enforcement, and failed to report it.
Romero faces one count of aggravated animal cruelty. If convicted, he faces up to three years in federal prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
Lockhart faces one count of misprision of a felony and could spend up to three years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine, if convicted. Federal prosecutors say Lockhart also faces state charges of dog thefts in Delta.
Romero and Lockhart are facing federal charges because the crime is alleged to have occurred in a national park.
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