Jeff Stein, a 1991 West Chester University graduate with a bachelor’s in criminal justice, and founder and principal of ELPS Private Detective Agency, has a reputation as a kind of “last hope” for the wrongly incarcerated. He has been the driving force behind many “ripped from the headlines” stories, including two homicide cases in just the past year. He was honored in January with induction into the Vidocq Society, a non-profit whose members provide pro bono assistance to law enforcement agencies to aid them in solving cold case homicides.
His West Chester firm is a full-service agency of private investigators, investigative specialists, and licensed associates that provides a range of security and investigative services.
Some of Stein’s cases illustrate the fundamental flaws inherent in the criminal justice process — especially in overburdened, under-funded urban districts like Philadelphia. “Court-appointed attorneys are getting paid what they were in the late ’90s,” he says. It’s not possible for defendants to secure witnesses (and evidence) in their favor under such miserly circumstances, he stresses.
Stein is chair of the board of the Pennsylvania Association of Licensed Investigators, where he had been president since 2012. He is active in the WCU community and served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors 2008–2017. In 2012, 2013, and 2014, as the president of the Alumni Association, he was a speaker at the University’s commencement ceremonies. As a student, he was one of the founders of the campus chapter of Kappa Delta Rho.
West Chester provided “a great opportunity to spread your wings,” he says. “I earned a great education. I had fantastic professors,” he recalls, naming Jana Nestlerode and Anthony Zumpetta in particular. In his fall 1989 semester, Stein was working as a store detective at John Wanamaker’s when he suffered serious injuries and spent months in rehab after being run down by an automobile driven by a suspect in a shoplifting incident. “It was my worst fear that’d I’d lose a semester. But the faculty really stepped up for me. The faculty really worked with me to keep me on schedule.
“West Chester goes out of its way to provide a great opportunity to succeed.”