Criminal Justice Reform Advocate Alex Friedmann Now in Trouble with the Feds



Officials with the U.S. Justice Department have charged criminal justice reform advocate Alex Friedmann with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Friedmann already faces charges in connection with an alleged plot to attack security at the new Downtown Detention Center in Nashville.

This, according to a press release that Nashville officials put out this week.

A detailed federal complaint outlines allegations of an elaborate scheme Friedmann undertook during which he allegedly hid a variety of weapons and accessories in the new jail facility while it was under construction, the press release said.

The MNPD has lead the investigation of Friedmann since receiving information about him, via the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. That resulted in his arrest in January. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has kept apprised of the case since then. The FBI subsequently joined the investigation, the press release said.

According to the federal complaint, announced this week, in late December 2019, while preparing for the January 2020 opening of the facility, Davidson County Sherriff’s Office employees discovered two keys missing from the DDC’s key control room, the press release said.

“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,” according to the press release.

“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 13, 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, Tenn., the press release said.

“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,” the press release said.

“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 in January with attempted burglary, possession of burglary tools, and evidence tampering. He subsequently bonded out of jail. Friedmann was arrested again in February 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 housed by the Tennessee Department of Correction rather than in a Metro facility. His appearance before a United States magistrate judge is pending, the press release said.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]




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4 Thoughts to “Criminal Justice Reform Advocate Alex Friedmann Now in Trouble with the Feds”

  1. Pissed Off Nashvillian


  2. 83ragtop50

    So much for this justice reform “crusader”. The only reform I am in favor of is increasing the percentage of the jail term that must be served before an inmate can be considered for parole. The rate with which criminals (and they are criminals) become repeat (and often multiple time) offenders suggests that society is much safer with them incarcerated.

    1. William Delzell

      Have the state of Tennessee take over all private prisons as it did in the 1890’s during the coal miner’s strike that forced Tennessee to end convict leasing. Prisons should never be about making a profit for a few greedy persons like Tom Beasley.

  3. William Delzell

    Although I don’t condone the activities that the authorities have charged Friedman with, I understand where he’s coming from. This was not a federal-, state-, county-, or city-owned prison where the authorities found the weapons, but a private profit-driven prison. Privatization has absolutely no place in prison operation! Prisons should be strictly for public safety and rehabilitation, not as a tool for greedy profiteers to get rich off both crime victims and convicts. Privatized prisons are far more prone to riots, hostage-taking, escapes, stabbings, and staff accidents than state-run institutions are. Profit driven prisons are only concerned about making money for their greedy stockholders; not about protecting the general public. Core Civic needs to be exposed for the obscene racket it is.