News Segment


January 31, 2006

Great White’s former tour manager has decided to face the music.

Dan Biechele, 29, has agreed to plead guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deadly Rhode Island nightclub blaze that killed 100 people and injured hundreds more during an April 2003 performance by the heavy metal band.

In exchange for his guilty plea, which he is scheduled to enter next Tuesday, Biechele will serve no more than 10 years behind bars, Superior Court Judge Francis Darigan said. Had he gone to trial and been convicted, Biechele could have faced life in prison, as each manslaughter charges carries a maximum term of 30 years.

A number of relatives of victims of the fire were angered by news of the plea bargain, as many had hoped to see Biechele go to trial.

“For the 100 victims, and for all the ones that are burnt and scarred and everything else, they deserve much more than this–not a plea bargain. This is absolutely wrong,” Diane Mattera, whose 29-year-old daughter, Tammy, was killed in the fire, told the Associated Press.

Biechele was responsible for setting off the pyrotechnics that ignited the highly flammable foam that lined the club’s ceiling and walls, resulting in the nation’s fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in history.

He was indicted on 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter in December 2003–one count of alleged criminal negligence per death and one count of committing underlying offenses that led to the deaths.

The owners of The Station club, brothers Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, were also charged with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter apiece for allegedly installing the flammable foam in violation of state fire code.

Biechele has maintained that the Derderians gave him permission to set off the pyrotechnics, but the brothers, who have pleaded innocent to the charges against them, deny doing so.

Tom Briody, a lawyer for Biechele, declined to comment on the terms of the plea bargain, but told reporters his client was remorseful and never meant to hurt anyone. It was not known if Biechele would cooperate with prosecutors in the case against the Derderians.

Great White, whose guitarist, Ty Longley, died in the fire, has so far escaped charges in connection with the fire, though the band has been named in a number of wrongful death lawsuits in both state and federal court.

Courtesy of