R.I. Nightclub Owners Plead No Contest

The Station nightclub owners, Michael, left, and Jeffrey Derderian, right, are seen during a hearing at the Superior Court in Providence, R.I., in this Oct. 26, 2005, file photo. A lawyer for the owners of the nightclub where 100 people died in a 2003 fire said Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006, they will plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter charges. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki, File)
AP Photo
The owners of a nightclub where a 2003 fire killed 100 people will plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter charges, and only one will have to serve prison time, their lawyer said Wednesday. Victims' relatives were outraged.

Kathleen Hagerty said brothers Jeffrey and Michael Derderian will enter the pleas more than 3½ years after pyrotechnics ignited foam soundproofing as a 1980s heavy metal band started playing at The Station nightclub. She confirmed that Michael Derderian will serve four years in a minimum security prison, with eligibility for a work release program, and that Jeffrey Derderian will receive a suspended 10-year sentence.

Some relatives of those killed were furious to hear about the punishments, which they considered light.

"I can't believe the attorney general is just going to stand by and say OK to this," said Diane Mattera, whose 29-year-old daughter, Tammy Mattera-Housa, died in the fire.

Hagerty confirmed the pleas after WJAR-TV in Providence reported on a letter Attorney General Patrick Lynch wrote to families of those killed to announce the plea deal.

Robert Bruyere, whose stepdaughter, Bonnie Hamelin, died in the fire, said he and his wife, Claire, learned about the plea on the news and had not yet heard from the attorney general.

Lynch "better hope I don't see him in person, because I'll be in jail," he said.