Judge: GREAT WHITE Nightclub Fire Report Issued

December 9, 2003

A Superior Court judge confirmed Tuesday that a grand jury has issued its report on its nearly 10-month investigation into The Station nightclub fire that started after GREAT WHITE's pyrotechnics set the building on fire, killing 100 people and injuring scores of others, according to the Associated Press.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch had scheduled a meeting with victims' families and fire survivors for Tuesday afternoon "to answer questions ... regarding the status of the investigation."

Legal experts said the scheduling of a meeting could indicate there has been a decision on criminal charges. The grand jury has been meeting on and off since shortly after the fire.

David Yas, an attorney and editor of Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly, said he believes it means the grand jury probe is concluded because prosecutors are prohibited from discussing the status of an active criminal investigation.

Michael Healey, Lynch's spokesman, wouldn't comment on whether indictments were imminent. Lynch planned to "tell people what he legally and ethically can," Healey said of Tuesday's meeting.

An attorney for GREAT WHITE tour manager Dan Biechele was at the Kent County courthouse Tuesday morning. He would not comment when asked why he was there, and would not provide any information on his client's whereabouts.

Biechele set up GREAT WHITE's pyrotechnic display on Feb. 20 before the band took the stage for its concert at The Station. The fireworks, which sparked the fire, went off just moments into the band's first song.

While the band maintained it received permission to set off the fireworks, the club owners insisted permission was never given.

According to court documents, Biechele told investigators he had paperwork outlining the band's general use of pyrotechnics, but that all the documents specific to the Feb. 20 show were destroyed in the fire.

Biechele was not licensed to set off pyrotechnics in the state of Rhode Island.

Some family members attending Tuesday's meeting said they were eager for news of indictments in the case, and said they would be upset if the meeting was called for another reason.

"I'm certainly sure he's not going to let us down and say 'Merry Christmas,'" said Charles Sweet, whose 28-year-old son, Shawn, died in the fire.

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