Nashville criminal justice advocate pleads guilty to federal charge in detention center plot

·2 min read

A Nashville man found guilty last month of breaking into the Downtown Detention Center while it was under construction and hiding firearms in the walls on Thursday pleaded guilty to a federal charge.

Alex Friedmann was arrested in early 2020 after he was caught on video surveillance impersonating a construction contractor, stealing two keys and hiding three firearms and numerous blades in the facility.

Friedmann was the managing editor of Prison Legal News, and frequently quoted in news stories about prison reform. He also served as the associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center, a nonprofit organization that campaigns on behalf of prisoner rights.

Friedmann was initially charged with felony vandalism in connection with the case.

Alexander Friedmann sits and listens to his attorneys talk to the witness during the first day of his trial at the Justice A.A. Birch Building in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, July 19, 2022.
Alexander Friedmann sits and listens to his attorneys talk to the witness during the first day of his trial at the Justice A.A. Birch Building in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, July 19, 2022.

Prosecutors with the Davidson County District Attorney's Office last month said Friedmann's actions cost the county over $250,000 in damages for the cost to rekey the entire facility and overtime pay for employees tasked with reviewing thousands of hours of footage.

Friedmann's attorneys didn't deny their client vandalized the facility, but accused the state of overcharging him. A jury didn't agree and found Friedmann guilty.

He faces between 25 and 40 years in a Tennessee prison. He's scheduled to be sentenced next month.

During an investigation into Friedmann's actions, police learned that he'd moved several locked crates to a friend's home in Joelton. Investigators found the crates which contained assault rifles, handguns, shotguns and a 37mm launcher.

Friedmann, who had previously been convicted of armed robbery and assault, was subsequently charged in federal court with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

“In my 35 years of law enforcement, rarely have I felt an individual needs to be held accountable to the greatest extent of the law as Alex Friedmann," Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said Thursday in a statement. "He terrorized the entire Davidson County Sheriff’s Office downtown campus and today’s federal court action proves his evil plan was much broader than initially realized.”

Federal sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 4.

Contact Tennessean reporter Kirsten Fiscus at 615-259-8229 or KFiscus@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @KDFiscus.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Man at center of detention facility plot pleads guilty in federal court