A Langley man once dubbed the ‘Dr. Frankenstein’ of gun making was sentenced to 10 years in prison for manufacturing, selling and possession of high powered guns in Supreme Court in New Westminster on Wednesday.
Wearing a red jogging suit, Brad Michael Friesen, 39, stood briefly in the prisoner’s box to hear his sentence.
Justice Frits Verhoeve said the ‘severe sentence’ was handed down to show denunciation and deterrence for a “premeditated series of offenses” that were carried out for ‘a desire for profit.’
Verhoeve sentenced Friesen to a total of 21 years in jail for the more than 25 charges against him, were he to serve all his sentences consecutively.
“But that is unduly harsh,” said Verhoeve.
In fact, with time served credited at 1.5 days for each day spent in custody, Friesen will serve six years in prison.
Crown counsel asked for 11 to 14 years in jail, explaining that the court must take into account the proliferation of gun violence that has been taking place in the Lower Mainland. Friesen’s defense was asking for six.
Last October, as his trial began Friesen pleaded guilty to the weapons-related charges and to breaching his lifetime ban on firearms.
RCMP tipped off by U.S. Bureau
After weeks of police surveillance, Friesen was arrested on the morning of July 17, 2014, while he was with his five-year-old son and common law wife, camping in Osoyoos.
Numerous firearms and illegal firearms-related devices were seized from Friesen’s van at the campground.
Police also seized magazines, silencers, 26 switches and more than 700 rounds of ammunition, along with his laptop and cellphone.
The arrest came after officers from the Tucson, Ariz. office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives called RCMP to tell them they had been investigating Friesen for selling Glock switches, silencers and gun parts via the internet.
A joint Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC) and U.S. investigation began, resulting in investigators conducting surveillance of Friesen.
“It did not take long before he was observed mailing packages of parts and silencers to addresses in Canada, the U.S., and Australia,” said CFSEU-BC’s Sgt. Lindsay Houghton during a press conference at RCMP headquarters following the arrest.
At his sentencing hearing, Friesen adamantly denied the guns and ammo seized from his van were his. He told the courts his friend must have planted the guns.
‘Story not credible’
On Wednesday, Justice Verhoeve said he didn’t find anything Friesen said to be credible.
“There are too many holes in your story to count,” said Verhoeve.
“Not to mention, your fingerprints were on the bags carrying the guns.”
The judge also didn’t accept Friesen’s statement that he didn’t know manufacturing guns and suppressors was illegal, especially since seized text messages from his phone indicated to buyers that guns like Glocks are, “so illegal in Canada.”
“Crown was unable to establish that you were in fact selling to organized crime, but you were willing to sell to whomever,” Verhoeve said.
“You have no remorse and you haven’t taken any responsibility for your actions.”
For manufacturing suppressors, Friesen was sentenced to six years.
“These are very dangerous devices used to engage in lethal crimes,” said the judge.
Injury blamed for life choices
Friesen has a lifetime gun prohibition, stemming from a 2003 conviction of attempted murder using a firearm in Penticton. He served just under four years and moved to Langley upon his release from jail. That is where he remained until his arrest.
He told the court during his hearing that he worked various jobs until hurting his back and being fired. He blames not being able to obtain disability income as his reason for turning to drugs, driving for a drug dealer and making poor decisions, he said.
Friesen had full custody of his son until his arrest.
The court learned that Friesen had studied how to make high-powered guns, and how to convert guns from semi-automatic to automatic. How-to books were seized from his Walnut Grove home. He also had a website where he offered his guns for sale.
During surveillance, police observed him visiting a Walnut Grove home on 95A Avenue, which officers suspected of being a workshop for making silencers and gun parts. Inside the workshop, police found machines to make the gun parts.
It’s unclear if officials in the U.S. plan to try him on weapons charges as well.