The manager of rock act Great White, who set off fireworks inside a Rhode Island nightclub and started a fire that killed 100 people three years ago, pleaded guilty yesterday (Feb. 7) to involuntary m

The manager of rock act Great White, who set off fireworks inside a Rhode Island nightclub and started a fire that killed 100 people three years ago, pleaded guilty yesterday (Feb. 7) to involuntary manslaughter.

Daniel Biechele, 29, faces up to 10 years in prison for his role in the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. He will be sentenced on May 8 in Providence Superior Court in Rhode Island's state capital.

Biechele admitted in court that he set off the fireworks that accompanied Great White's Feb. 20, 2003, at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I. State prosecutors said the pyrotechnics caused the fire that killed 100 patrons of the club and injured some 200.

Biechele also acknowledged that he spoke with one of the club's owners, Michael Derderian, and asked for permission to use the fireworks that night. The state said Derderian gave Biechele permission to light the pyrotechnics display.

Biechele and club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian were each charged with 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter with criminal negligence, and 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter in violation of a misdemeanor. All three pleaded not guilty in separate arraignments in December 2003.

In changing his plea to guilty, Biechele waived his right to a trial and to appeal his sentence.

Jody King, whose 39-year-old brother, Tracy, died in the fire, said Biechele's sentence was too lenient. "It's not enough. It never will be enough. Ten years can't replace Tracy and 99 other lives. It's 1.2 months per life," King said.

The Station went up in flames when sparks from the fireworks display at the start of the concert spread to flammable foam on the club's walls. Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch has accused the Derderians of failing to properly maintain the nightclub by keeping the foam on the walls.


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