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August 11, 2005 By:
Jared Shelly, JE Feature
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Stuart Drobny
Stuart Drobny knows where you live.

Okay, so he doesn't actually know, but he can find out. As president of Stumar Investigations, the 46-year-old private investigator based in Norristown can obtain your address, phone number and where you walk your dog each morning, given the time. If you're on his list, and accused of committing a crime, he can have the police at your door with search warrants even before you finish breakfast.

"All it would take is a call to my office, and to check through some databases," said Drobny.

Drobny's parents, Holocaust survivors who hail from Czechoslovakia, eventually moved to Vineland, N.J., where the future P.I. was born and raised.

After attending law school at Temple University, he started working for a small investigation firm, and knew he could make it his career. As for becoming a police officer or getting into law enforcement, he never felt like that was the way to go; instead, he opted for the private sector.

After a couple of years, Drobny started his own company, and has since expanded into offices in six different states, housing more than 40 employees. Though he used to physically go out on investigations to do surveillance, his current job consists more of bringing in business and gathering leads while his team follows through on them.

The company investigates personal-injury claims, money-laundering scams and marital disputes, but has also been at the forefront of investigating merchandise fraud, working for companies like Mitchell and Ness, the sporting-goods firm, and fashionista Louis Vuitton.

"Everything is counterfeited," explained Drobny. "When you get into people wearing fake Oakley sunglasses and their eyes are not getting the protection they need, that's a big problem."

Even in cases where someone is just trying to bypass a corporation in the quest for extra cash, Drobny has little sympathy.

To him, the crime is in the economics. Legal commerce creates jobs for people on every end of the production line - manufacturers, warehousers, sales people - and they all pay taxes.

According to Drobny, problems come when all of that money goes underground. "When we need our streets and roads fixed, that happens as a result of taxation. When you're avoiding the whole taxation side, you're taking away jobs and, yes, it does become a crime."

But that's not the greatest problem as far as he's concerned.

"You have an illegal stream of money - and I've been saying it for years, it funds terrorism," said Drobny. "It is the ultimate source for terrorist organizations. There was proof in the first World Trade Center bombing that the sale of counterfeit recording products was involved."

Another facet of his job is working with businesses that ask him to run background checks on potential employees - a service that saved a lot of trouble for one customer.

"We had a company that was going to go into business with a gentleman who came to them with a terrific idea," recalled Drobny. "I began an investigation on this person and, lo and behold, it turned out that he had been in and out of federal prisons for scams."

Outside of work, Drobny enjoys time with his wife, and nearly grown son and daughter. He's also a basketball coach and heads the security committee at his synagogue, Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell.

Judaism, he said, figures into a job that frequently involves prying into people's lives. "It fits into seeking the truth, and being a fact-finder and being guided by doing the right thing ethically. We do things by the book. That is part of my duties."

 

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