May 10, 2006

Tour manager sentenced to jail for deadly RI club fire

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (Reuters) - The tour manager of a
rock band who set off fireworks inside a Rhode Island nightclub
and started a fire that killed 100 people was sentenced on
Wednesday to 15 years in prison but 11 of those years were
immediately suspended.

People in the courtroom gasped when Judge Francis Darigan
Jr. sentenced a contrite Daniel Biechele, 29, who set off the
pyrotechnics when the band Great White played at The Station
nightclub in nearby West Warwick three years ago.

Sparks ignited the club's soundproofing foam and many
patrons, overcome by toxic fumes, were trapped as the wooden
roadside club burned to the ground. Some 200 people were

As Biechele was handcuffed and led away, his family sobbed
while some relatives of some of the fire victims chastised the
judge for the sentence.

In February, Biechele pleaded guilty to 100 counts of
involuntary manslaughter and prosecutors asked for the maximum
prison term of 10 years under the plea bargain. Biechele's
attorneys had asked the judge to sentence him to community
service. Darigan rejected both, sentencing him to 15 years but
suspending 11 years of that term. He was also sentenced to
three years probation.