Williamsburg officer found guilty of lesser charges months after James City standoff

Staff writer

Standing before the Williamsburg-James City County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, a former Williamsburg police officer was found guilty on lesser charges as part of a plea deal.

Richard Frederick Drab Jr. was found guilty Friday of disorderly conduct and reckless handling of a firearm, both misdemeanors.

Drab’s attorney, J. Stephen Roberts Sr., argued the former police officer, Army and Navy veteran had taken responsibility for his actions, sought and continued alcohol abuse treatment and resolved pending actions with his wife, who sat behind Drab at the hearing.

Roberts asked the judge to withhold the findings of the case. In a hushed voice, Drab entered a plea of no contest to both charges.

Judge Sharon Will called Roberts’ request “not unreasonable,” but wouldn’t accept a plea of no contest. She found Drab guilty.

“The first thing I need to say to you is thank you for your service to the country,” Will said before later saying, “I can only imagine your wife’s terror that night. Lord knows you know how to use those weapons.”

Henrico-based prosecutor Sean Breit-Rupe and Roberts negotiated a plea agreement that would drop or amend certain charges and discussed the changes with Drab’s wife, they said.

Drab had been charged with shooting within an occupied dwelling, domestic assault, brandishing a firearm and reckless handling of a firearm, according to Virginia Gazette archives.

At about 5:15 p.m. Oct. 24, 2018, James City County Police Department officers were called to the 4600 block of Noland Boulevard for a barricaded, armed person in a residence, according to James City County Police Department spokeswoman Stephanie Williams.

An ensuing standoff ended at about 7:10 p.m., according to a James City County Police Department news release after the incident.

A domestic incident is thought to have caused the standoff, the release said. There were no injuries.

James City County police identified the suspect as Drab, a Williamsburg Police Department lieutenant, the release said.

Drab, a 20-year veteran of the Williamsburg force, was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, according to a Williamsburg Police Department news release.

Drab resigned effective Jan. 31, according to Williamsburg Police Department spokesman John Heilman.

Judge Will approved Breit-Rupe’s and Roberts’ plea agreement, which gave Drab a six-month suspended sentence with three years of conditional probation.

Drab was ordered to give up his firearms to a family member who lives in a different household and he was forbidden from possessing firearms while he’s on probation. Drab was also ordered to continue to seek counseling and perform 100 hours of community service.

James City County police seized six firearms from the home, including handguns and rifles.

Drab has no criminal history in Williamsburg-James City County, York or Gloucester general district courts.

With the plea agreement, Breit-Rupe declined to prosecute a felony charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling. That could allow Drab to own firearms again after he finishes probation.

Breit-Rupe and Roberts both declined to comment on the case after the hearing.

Note: Attorney J. Stephen Roberts Sr. is not related to Virginia Gazette reporter Stephen P. Roberts Jr.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at srobertsjr@vagazette.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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