News Segment


April 17, 2006

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The former rock band tour manager who ignited pyrotechnics that started a deadly nightclub fire in 2003 has written personalized letters of apology to relatives of all 100 people who were killed.

The handwritten letters from Daniel Biechele, who pleaded guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter, have been given to a judge and will be delivered to the family members sometime after his sentencing next month.

“Mr. Biechele feels genuine sorrow at what happened in this case, and he’s been wanting to say something to the victims for a long time,” Biechele’s lawyer, Tom Briody, said Monday.

Biechele, former tour manager for the rock band Great White, set off the pyrotechnics that triggered the Feb. 20, 2003, fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick. Sparks from the pyrotechnics ignited flammable sound-absorption foam on the club’s walls and ceiling.

In return for Biechele’s plea, prosecutors agreed to a maximum term of 10 years in prison. He could have faced up to 30 years on each count. Sentencing is set for May 8.

Briody said it was Biechele’s decision to write the letters. He would not say if he would ask a judge to weigh them as a factor for a lighter sentence.

Diane Mattera, whose 29-year-old daughter, Tammy, died in the fire, said the apology letter won’t ease her grief.

“He is a direct link to the cause of the accident that took 100 lives and maimed over 200 other people. How is a letter going to change that?” Mattera said. “I know he did not set out that evening to do any kind of damage whatsoever, but what good is a letter of apology?”

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.

Charges are still pending against the owners of the nightclub who each face 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

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