Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration has cut off funding to the state’s largest charter-school operator, the politically influential United Neighborhood Organization, over insider deals it says violated terms of a $98 million state grant, according to a letter obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
The deals involved millions of dollars in state funds that went to companies owned by two brothers of a high-ranking UNO executive, Miguel d’Escoto, that were hired as contractors on state-funded school construction projects in Chicago, according to the letter, which was sent to the organization Thursday from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
The state agency began investigating UNO in response to reports in the Sun-Times that revealed that d’Escoto Inc. and Reflection Window Co. have been paid a total of $8.5 million out of the state grant. D’Escoto Inc. is owned by Federico “Fred” d’Escoto. Reflection Window is owned by Rodrigo d’Escoto.
The two men are brothers of Miguel d’Escoto, a city transportation commissioner in former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration who resigned Feb. 12 from his $200,000-a-year position as UNO’s No. 2 executive following the Sun-Times reports.
State officials said UNO should have notified them it was using the companies owned by the d’Escoto family members.
The DCEO letter is here.
* Gov. Quinn emphasized today that the grant funding suspension was “temporary” until the state can “get to the bottom” of what’s going on. Unless the group “straightens things out,” Quinn said, “they won’t get any money.”
Federal prosecutors raised the prospect on Friday in court of having their experts examine former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. if his lawyers plan to raise his bipolar disorder as a mitigating factor in trying to reduce his prison sentence.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson made no decision after prosecutor Matt Graves said he wanted to “alert” her to the possible issue in advance of the sentencing July 1 of Jackson and his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson. […]
Graves said the government is “entitled” to have Jackson checked “by our own experts” if Jackson’s lawyers decide to argue Jackson’s mental health should be taken into consideration by the judge when she sentences him.
Defense attorney Reid Weingarten told Judge Jackson that the former congressman’s bipolar disorder is well known and “not controversial.”