Station Charges Stand

The owners of West Warwick, R.I.’s Station nightclub and the former tour manager for Great White failed to persuade a judge to dismiss involuntary manslaughter charges against them.

Attorneys for Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, brothers who owned the venue where 100 people lost their lives in a February 2003 fire, claimed prosecutors withheld evidence from a grand jury that would have helped their case. Attorneys for tour manager Dan Biechele, who ignited the blaze by launching pyro onstage, argued the same point.

An eight-page fax that was sent by acoustic foam salesman Barry Warner to the Rhode Island attorney general’s office in May 2003 claimed his company was in the habit of selling product to customers without alerting them to its dangers. The company, American Foam Corp., disputes Warner’s claims.

Judge Francis Darigan Jr. dismissed accusations that prosecutors engaged in misconduct, saying the fax did not have to be presented to the grand jurors who indicted the three men in 2003.

Darigan said Warner “appears to be a former disgruntled employee” and questioned the credibility of the fax.

He added that the Derderians would have been charged with murder if it was believed they intended to harm or kill the victims; the charges they face do not allege they meant to hurt anyone.

“The Attorney General is pleased that the court rejected the defendants’ claim that the legal theory of misdemeanor manslaughter was somehow flawed,” said Michael Healey, spokesman for Attorney General Patrick Lynch.

The criminal trial for the club owners and Biechele is expected to begin next year.