R.I. club owner out of jail for fatal fire

100 died at 2003 Great White show

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A former co-owner of a Rhode Island nightclub where a fire killed 100 people was released from prison Thursday after earning time off for good behavior.

Michael Derderian, who was initially due out this fall, said that his time in prison was difficult but that others have suffered worse.

He said in a statement that he plans to contribute to a nonprofit fund he started with his brother and fellow club-owner, Jeffrey, to raise money for education costs for children who lost parents in the February 2003 fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick.

"I would also be willing to speak about my experience while incarcerated in the hopes that it may deter people from making the wrong choices," Derderian said in a statement posted on The Station Education Fund Web site.

Derderian, who pleaded no contest to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter, spent less than three years behind bars. He was given credit for good behavior and for participating in programs that moved up his release date, said corrections department spokeswoman Tracey Zeckhausen.

The Feb. 20, 2003, fire began when pyrotechnics used by the rock band Great White ignited cheap foam that the Derderians used as soundproofing around the stage.

Jeffrey Derderian avoided prison time after pleading no contest to the same charges. Former Great White tour manager Daniel Biechele, who set off the pyrotechnics as a flashy stage prop, was released on parole last year after serving less than half his four-year prison sentence.
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