Sources: Break-in part of plot to discredit new Davidson County Jail

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Posted at 9:56 AM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 19:54:53-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — New details emerge from an ongoing investigation into a case that stunned the city. Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall now calls it the "most significant security breach in Nashville history."

The questions now: How and why a well-known prison reform advocate allegedly snuck into the new downtown detention center and stole security keys. Sheriff Hall said this has compromised the security of this multi-million dollar facility before it's even opened.

Authorities say Alex Friedmann -- one more than one occasion -- slipped into the new downtown detention center posing as one of the construction workers.

Friedmann is accused of -- among other things -- stealing two access keys from a control room, which as far as we know still have not been recovered.

"The keys to the sheriff's office are the equivalent of the bank losing the money," said Sheriff Hall.

Friedmann was arrested in early January only after a sheriff's lieutenant noticed the keys missing, reviewed security video, and then spotted a man in a yellow construction vest and taking the keys.

Later, authorities discovered a second person involved, also seen on video in a mask, who has yet to be found. But Hall said that "we know the main player is Mr. Freidmann."

Friedmann is a well-known prison and jail reform advocate who had actually met with the sheriff several times in the past. Now -- authorities say Friedmann is at the center of a plot to compromise the security of the new Davidson County jail.

"There's just no doubt what the intent is, the magnitude of that is shocking," Hall said.

Investigators have learned much in the five weeks since Friedmann's arrest. Sheriff Hall would not share details. But other sources tell Newschannel 5 it's all part of a plot to discredit the new jail and -- more dangerously -- to possibly help with the escape of inmates once they move to the new facility.

Hall said when the details are made public it will prove to be the most significant security breach in the history of our city.

The security breach has already cost the city. Those missing keys mean locks must be changed. "It will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars when it's over minimum," said Hall.

And, now it's confirmed this situation is delaying -- at least until late spring -- moving the inmates into the new maximum security facility.

Friedmann is free on $32,000 bond. When contacted by NewsChannel 5 he declined comment. He's hired well-known local attorney David Raybin. It's likely much more will be learned about the case against Friedmann when he makes his first appearance in criminal court Friday.