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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  December 25, 2004
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Michael Derderian Background
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- When Michael Derderian bought The Station nightclub with his brother in March 2000, he borrowed $68,000 against his house and poured it into renovating the place.

The Derderians promised the town of West Warwick the days of the loud and crowded roadhouse on Cowesett Avenue were over. They'd monitor the club's sound with a decibel meter and hire a police officer when large crowds were expected. The placed foam on the walls to muffle the sounds.

"They laid down the law and they were pretty adamant about how they wanted the bar run," said Paul Vanner, the club's former sound man.

For nearly three years, Michael Derderian handled the day-to-day affairs at the club while his brother Jeff, a well-known TV reporter, was in charge of promotions.

But on Feb. 20, it all ended when fire ripped through the one-story wooden building, killing 100 people and injured about 200 others who went to see the heavy metal band, Great White.

On Tuesday, Michael Derderian was indicted on 200 charges of involuntary manslaughter -- two counts for each of the 100 people who perished. He pleaded innocent in Kent County Superior Court.

For Michael, 42, a father and licensed private pilot, The Station was another business in a string of ventures that included insurance, real estate and small business ownership.

"Jeffrey's forte was marketing and knowing the market, Michael's was the number counting," said Lawrence Lepore, a friend and executive director of the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.

But the numbers weren't looking great. In divorce papers filed in Family Court, Michael Derderian said he was selling stock last year to meet "various margin calls as well as household expenses." His estranged wife said her husband told her the nightclub had been operating at a loss, the divorce records showed.

The records also show Derderian's debts, including $28,000 owed to the Internal Revenue Service and a $954 monthly payment on his Mercedes Benz, and that he was forced to borrow $5,000 from his father.

The brothers grew up in Warwick, the son of an Armenian grocery story owner. The boys -- along with brother Robert, a doctor -- lost their mother when they were young.

Employees said Michael Derderian was the kind of boss who would have a late-night cocktail with the staff or loan out money in a pinch.

"Jeffrey is more of the type to shake your hand. Michael is more the type to give you a hug," said former club bartender Julie Mellini.

When the brothers booked Great White, they were in the midst of trying to sell The Station. According to David Clayton, West Warwick's town clerk, the pair alerted him last December that they'd found a potential buyer. But twice in January, the Derderians told him the deal was off and to withhold putting a request for a liquor license transfer on the town council agenda. Then, the day before the fire, the Derderian's contacted him again to say they did have a buyer and would come in that Friday to handle the paperwork.

Since the fire, Michael Derderian has attended some of the funerals for victims, including services for employee Tracy King.

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