One owner to serve four years in prison.
Owners of a Rhode Island nightclub where a fire killed 100 people three years ago will plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter charges, state documents showed on Wednesday (Sept. 20).
Brothers Michael and Jeffrey Derderian will each plead no contest to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter for their role in the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, according to a letter sent to families of the victims by Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch.
The three-page letter was published on the Web site of The Providence Journal, a daily newspaper, late on Wednesday. The attorney-general was not immediately available to comment.
In exchange for the plea, Michael Derderian will serve four years in prison with 11 years suspended, followed by three years probation. Jeffrey Derderian will serve a 10-year suspended sentence, with three years probation and 500 hours of community service.
Families of the victims expressed anger that sentences were not longer.
"They always seem to get the right lawyers and they always seem to get off, and that's what these guys did," said Donald Latulippe, whose 46-year-old son Dale Latulippe was killed.
The fire, sparked by fireworks that accompanied a show by the rock band Great White on February 20, 2003, at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, also injured more than 200 people.
Nearly a third of the crowd that had come to hear the 1980s-era heavy metal band were unable to exit the building.
Sparks from the fireworks at the start of the concert spread to flammable foam on the club's walls. State prosecutors have said Michael Derderian gave the band's tour manager, Daniel Biechele, permission to light the pyrotechnics display.
In February, Biechele received a four-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
The trial of Michael Derderian was scheduled to begin on October 3. Both Derderians are scheduled to enter their guilty plea on September 29, and sentencing may occur on the same day.