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Great White Manager to Plead Guilty

Band's road manager may serve up to ten years for 2003 club fire

February 1, 2006 12:00 AM ET

Heavy metal act Great White's former tour manager Dan Biechele, 29, will plead guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 100 people and injured 200. In exchange for the plea, he will not serve more than ten years in prison.

The fire at the Station club started just moments into Great White's February 20th show in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Biechele, who triggered the pyrotechnics that ignited the foam lining the venue's ceiling and walls, had claimed that the venue's owners, Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, had given him permission to set off the display -- a claim they have denied.

Six months after the tragedy, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the band and the Derderian brothers nearly $100,000. Biechele and the Derderians were indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter that December, to which each initially pleaded innocent. Great White has yet to be charged with any wrongdoing.

Formed in 1982, Great White found success in 1989 with their hit single "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," a cover of an Ian Hunter tune. The band went on to score two Top Twenty albums, including that year's ...Twice Shy, which hit Number Nine, and 1991's Hooked. In 2000, founding guitarist Mark Kendall left the band and was replaced by Ty Longley. Frontman Jack Russell officially broke up the group the following year. In 2003, however, Great White reunited and hit the road for a U.S. tour.

Longley was among those killed in the fire.

Biechele will formally enter his plea in court next Tuesday.

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