Biechele Seeks Community Service

The attorney for former Great White road manager Dan Biechele urged Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Francis Darigan May 4th to sentence his client to community service. Biechele has pleaded guilty to 100 counts of manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in prison.

“Daniel Biechele committed a misdemeanor,” lawyer Thomas Briody wrote in a sentencing memorandum, according to The Providence Journal. “He set off pyrotechnics without the requisite permit. This illegal act was the last link in an entire chain of events which lead to an inferno in The Station nightclub and caused the death of one hundred persons. But forge one last link is what he did. Not less; not more. His punishment should fit his crime, not the unforeseen consequences of his crime, however catastrophic.”

Biechele launched pyrotechnics in the West Warwick club at the beginning of a Great White performance February 20, 2003, which ignited flammable foam around the stage and led to one of the deadliest nightclub fires in U.S. history.

Briody’s memorandum included a report by fire risk engineer Robert Malanga that said the club’s owners, Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, were more at fault.

“Initiation of the fire was directly caused by the use of pyrotechnical devices during a performance of the visiting band, Great White,” Malanga reportedly wrote. However, “of considerably greater significance … was the contribution of inherently dangerous polyurethane foam interior finish material, which was previously installed as soundproofing.”

Malanga also faulted the Derderians for failing to get a permit to install the foam and a “history of noncompliance and defiance of the applicable codes including repeat and recurrent fire code violations.”

Attorney General Patrick Lynch is seeking the maximum prison sentence allowed for Biechele after a plea bargain was reached and the tour manager pleaded guilty January 31st. Briody said the court should take into account that Biechele’s guilty plea has spared the victims’ families of a trial, according to the Journal.

“More than three years after that terrible winter night in West Warwick, Dan Biechele is the only person to accept responsibility for his role in causing the fire. The club’s owners, both separately indicted, profess their innocence and await trial. The fire marshal, the salesman and the company who sold the foam, the band leader and the management company that hired Dan have all gone on with their lives, free of any criminal prosecution.”