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posted: 3/31/2010 12:01 AM

Two lawyers, title company given Liberty Bell award

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A pair of Lake County attorneys and a title insurance company have been named recipients of the 2010 Liberty Bell awards by the 19th Judicial Circuit.

Douglas Stiles and David Leibowitz, as well as the Attorneys' Title Guaranty Fund, Inc., were all honored for their work helping people facing mortgage foreclosure.

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Stiles, of Waukegan, and Leibowitz, of Deerfield, helped create the Mortgage Foreclosure Help Desk with the assistance of the Lake County Bar Association.

The Help Desk has volunteer lawyers and paralegals stationed outside courtrooms where foreclosure cases are heard to assist homeowners who are without private counsel.

The Attorneys' Title Guaranty Fund is based in Champaign and was recognized for joining with the bar association and other organizations to present the "Keep Your Home" event at the College of Lake County in Grayslake.

On March 6, more than 300 families received free mortgage counseling and assistance filling out refinance applications.

The Liberty Bell awards originated in the 1960s and honor extraordinary service to the justice system.

The Lake County honorees will receive their awards at the April 28 meeting of the bar association.

We do the math

Judging from the e-mail traffic, there is some degree of confusion about the real impact of the 240-year prison sentence imposed recently on Michael Rebecca.

Some people have expressed concern Rebecca will be eligible for parole at some point and, in the case of one correspondent, in as little 14 years.

Well, Rebecca is indeed eligible for parole, at least on paper. But it will be considerably longer than 14 years before he appears before the board.

The 14-year figure one person came up with is probably a leftover from the old days of indeterminate sentencing, when judges could hand out sentences of 1,000 years or more but everyone did get a shot at parole after 14 years.

But that has not been the law in this state since the later 1970s, and current chances for parole are based on the type of crime a person is convicted of.

In Rebecca's case, some of the crimes he was convicted of require that 85 percent of the sentence must be served before parole, while others require only 50 percent.

Adding up all the counts in all three cases and applying the correct formula to each one, it appears Rebecca will be required to serve 201 years, six months and two weeks of the 240 years.

Less, of course, the time he spent in local custody since his November 2007 arrest.

Rebecca, 52, of Vernon Hills, was convicted of molesting three young boys between 2003 and 2007 in what he termed "a sex club for boys" in which he plied them with gifts and cash.

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