The No. 2 executive of the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) - Miguel d'Escoto - quit yesterday, eight days after it was reported that the politically influential charter school operator paid state grant money to companies owned by two of his brothers.
D’Escoto was paid $200,000 a year by UNO and had worked for it for six years. D’Escoto’s brothers were paid with state funds under a $98 million grant UNO got to build new schools. One brother, Fred d’Escoto, of D'Escoto Inc., has been paid more than $1.5 million so far for working as “owner’s representative” on three school projects. Rodrigo d’Escoto’s company was paid about $6.7 million for work on two schools, and the firm has a contract for about $3.1 million to help build another.
In addition to the two d’Escoto-owned firms, other UNO contractors with the grant money included the sister of the charter group’s lobbyist Victor Reyes and the brothers of State Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago). Acevedo is a longtime UNO ally who voted to award the grant in 2009.
State officials who oversee the grant have said they are now reviewing UNO’s spending. UNO is a tax free 501c3 "community group" established in 1984 to "empower Chicago Hispanics through classic grassroots organizing strategies."