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Band manager who ignited deadly Rhode Island nightclub fire freed from prison
Nightclub fire RISM 7758766
Dan Biechele, left, former tour manager for the band Great White. whose pyrotechnic display sparked the 2003 Station nightclub fire, is released from minimum security prison Wednesday, March 19, 2008, in Cranston, R.I. Biechele was released early after he was sentenced in 2006 to 4 years after being convicted of 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter. - photo by Associated Press
    CRANSTON, R.I. — The band manager whose pyrotechnics display sparked a nightclub fire that killed 100 people in 2003 was freed from prison Wednesday after serving less than half of his four-year sentence.
    Daniel Biechele, 31, walked from the front door of Rhode Island’s minimum security prison into his lawyer’s car at midday and was driven away. He did not respond to questions as he got into the vehicle.
    His attorney, Thomas Briody, said in a statement that Biechele would not make any public statements ‘‘out of respect for those people most affected by the fire.’’
    ‘‘He was a private citizen before this tragedy, and he wishes to remain so,’’ Briody said.
    Briody has declined to discuss future plans for Biechele, who married just before reporting to prison. But a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections has said Biechele will be assigned a parole officer and will live in Casselberry, Fla., outside Orlando.
    Biechele, the former tour manager for the 1980s rock band Great White, pleaded guilty in 2006 to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter for his part in the fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick.
    Sparks from the pyrotechnics display at the start of Great White’s set on the night of Feb. 20, 2003, ignited flammable foam that lined the walls and ceiling of the one-story wooden roadhouse. The flames sent out toxic black smoke and created temperatures so high that most of the dead were killed within minutes. Panicked concertgoers became trapped at the front door. More than 200 people were injured.
    Biechele was indicted along with club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian on 200 counts each of involuntary manslaughter. He was to have been the first of the three to stand trial, but struck a plea deal with prosecutors. He got four years, plus an additional 11 years suspended and three years’ probation.
    The parole board unanimously decided in September to release Biechele early, saying he had shown genuine remorse and had the support of family members of victims.
    Many family members have said they appreciated Biechele’s apologies; he sent each family a handwritten letter after his sentencing to express his remorse. He also tearfully apologized at his sentencing hearing, saying he wasn’t sure he could ever forgive himself, and didn’t expect forgiveness from anyone else.
    ‘‘I don’t think he had as big a role in what happened that night as some other people, and he was man enough to admit his mistake, show some genuine remorse and do his time with dignity,’’ said Chris Fontaine, whose son, Mark, died in the fire.
    ‘‘Here’s a young man who has to live with his actions for the rest of his life,’’ Fontaine said Wednesday after Biechele’s release. ‘‘I think that’s sufficient punishment.’’
    Michael Derderian, who is serving a four-year sentence after pleading no contest to involuntary manslaughter for installing the foam, is due out on parole in October 2009.
    Jeffrey Derderian was spared prison time and sentenced instead to probation and 500 hours of community service. He completed his community service requirement last year with a local fire and rescue company and with a national agency that works for burn survivors.

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