Skip to Content

Criminal Justice Reform Advocate Alex Friedmann Now Charged by U.S. Justice Department in Connection with Scheme to Hide Caches of Weapons Inside Nashville's Downtown Detention Center

5/26/2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Criminal justice reform advocate Alex Friedmann, already facing state charges in connection with a plot to attack security at the new Downtown Detention Center (DDC), today was charged by the United States Justice Department with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. A detailed federal complaint outlines allegations of an elaborate scheme undertaken by Friedmann during which he hid a variety of weapons and accessories in the new jail facility while it was under construction. The document also discusses the execution of search warrants by Central Precinct detectives in South Nashville and Joelton.

The MNPD has been leading the investigation of Friedmann since receiving information about him from the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office resulting in his arrest on Saturday, January 4. The United States Attorney’s Office has been kept apprised of the case since that day. The FBI subsequently formally joined the investigation.

According to the federal complaint, announced today by U.S. Attorney Don Cochran, in late December 2019, while preparing for the January 2020 opening of the facility, Davidson County Sherriff’s Office (DCSO) employees discovered two keys missing from the DDC’s key control room. A review of video surveillance footage revealed that an individual, dressed in clothing consistent with facility construction workers, had entered the room and taken two keys to secure areas of the facility. On January 4, the same individual, now identified as Friedmann, was located on the property. Friedmann was wearing a yellow reflective vest, a hard hat, protective gloves, and a dust mask covering his face. Friedmann told DCSO employees he was there working, but it was determined that he was not employed by the construction company or any of its contractors. Friedmann was detained by the DCSO, and subsequently arrested by the MNPD. At the time of his arrest, Friedmann had a hand drawn schematic of a portion of the DDC, which he attempted to destroy by chewing it up and swallowing.

A subsequent review of historical surveillance footage determined that beginning in August 2019, an individual dressed as a construction worker and alleged to be Friedmann entered the facility on at least 10 occasions, sometimes accompanied by an accomplice who acted as a lookout. The individual was observed on video on several occasions removing material from the expansion joints in block walls and caulk from window areas, after which he placed items inside and covered the joints with another material. On other occasions, he was observed checking different parts of the facility and making notes. Based on the video evidence, a search of the identified areas of the facility was conducted on February 10, and investigators recovered three handguns, ammunition, handcuff keys, razor blades and other items.

Subsequent investigation determined that Friedmann owned a condominium in a complex on Tampa Drive in South Nashville and contracted an individual to build a 200 square foot fire-proof storage area in a basement area of one of the buildings. This storage area was constructed out of concrete block. When Central Precinct detectives executed a search warrant at this location on March 13th, it appeared that this room was used as a practice facility. Investigators noticed several inconsistencies in the mortar joints of the block walls, similar to what had been discovered earlier at the DDC. It was also determined that Friedmann had recently moved several locked storage crates from the room to a friend’s house on Whites Creek Pike in Joelton, Tennessee.

On March 20, Central Precinct detectives executed a search warrant at the Joelton location and investigators recovered several crates, which contained 21 firearms, including assault rifles, handguns, shotguns and a 37mm launcher.

Friedmann has been convicted of prior felonies, including armed robbery, assault with intent to commit first-degree murder, and attempted aggravated robbery. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison on the current charge. Assistant United States Attorney Rob McGuire is prosecuting the case in federal court.

Friedmann was charged in state warrants on January 4 with attempted burglary, possession of burglary tools, and evidence tampering. He subsequently bonded out of jail. Friedmann was arrested again on February 18 on a new Davidson County indictment charging him with felony vandalism at the DDC. A Criminal Court judge set his bond at $2.5 million.

Friedmann is currently being housed by the Tennessee Department of Correction rather than in a Metro facility. His appearance before a United States magistrate judge is pending.

###

Alex Friedmann