A Nashville criminal justice advocate, who admitted to hiding firearms and other weapons in the walls of the Downtown Detention Center while it was under construction, was sentenced to serve 40 years in prison, a judge ruled.
Alex Friedmann, 53, appeared in court Thursday for sentencing, about three months after he was found guilty of felony vandalism.
Friedmann was arrested in early 2020 after he was caught on video impersonating a construction contractor, stealing two keys and hiding three firearms, saws and razor blades in the facility.
Davidson County Sheriff's officials spent thousands of hours reviewing video footage tracking Friedmann's movements in the facility, leading to the discovery of more than a dozen "tool packs" and the firearms hidden in the walls. Overtime pay for that work, and the cost to rekey the facility's 1,800 locks, tipped the $250,000 threshold for a felony vandalism charge, prosecutors argued during Friedmann's July trial.
Friedmann's attorneys, admitting their client did the crime, argued the state was overcharging him. The jury didn't feel the same way, returning a guilty verdict in about an hour. Friedmann has prior felony convictions, elevating his minimum punishment to 25 years in prison.
Before the trial, prosecutors offered Friedmann a plea deal with 30 years in prison, his attorney Ben Raybin wrote in a recent sentencing memorandum. He asked the judge to give his client similar consideration.
Accompanying that filing was a seven-page letter from Friedmann to Judge Steve Dozier in which he details two incidents of rape while he was being held in the old county jail at 18. Friedmann wrote in 2018 he visited the old jail, and the cell where he said the rapes occurred, in an effort to gain closure. Instead, he wrote, the visit had the opposite impact.
More:Alex Friedmann says fear of another 'gang rape' motivated him to hide weapons in jail walls
Friedmann wrote that he acted out of an irrational fear he'd be jailed and raped again. He hid the weapons in the walls of the under-construction facility as a failsafe, he wrote.
Sheriff Daron Hall flatly rejected that explanation, calling Friedmann's story a "fascinating illusion."
"The problem with his story is that the Criminal Justice Center had been torn down by that point in time. It was completely on the ground in 2016," Hall said during the sentencing hearing. "So it wasn't possible for him to tour it in 2018."
During a brief statement in court Thursday, Friedmann said he erred in the writing of his letter, and he did, indeed, visit the jail in 2016 before it was torn down.
Hall was indignant on the witness stand Thursday, adamant Friedmann's plot was to incite violence inside the jail.
"This is just another trick of a narcissist," Hall said. "Alex Friedmann is no victim and not one person should believe this legal Hail Mary ... There is not a person, ever, who deserves the maximum more than Alexander Friedmann.
"I beg this court, on behalf of the men and woman who work for me."
Friedmann apologized for his actions in court Thursday.
"I deeply regret I failed, and betrayed, the trust of the people who believed in me," he said. "I apologize to the advocates and the prison reform community and for any set backs my actions have caused."
Shortly after his vandalism trial in a Davidson County courtroom, Friedmann pleaded guilty to a federal crime of gun possession. He is scheduled to be sentenced in that case in January.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Alex Friedmann sentenced for plot to hide weapons in detention center