BGA: UNO spending under scrutiny - New York News

BGA: UNO spending under scrutiny

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A politically connected charter school operator came under scrutiny Wednesday amid allegations it has misused taxpayer money.

The United Neighborhood Organization has risen to be one of the city's most powerful Latino community groups in recent years, but now it's CEO has resigned and its' spending is coming under state and federal scrutiny.

UNO operates 16 charter schools in the city, but its CEO Juan Rangel resigned last month after the securities and exchange commission launched an investigation into a bond deal that helped fuel the company's school expansion.

"That's unprecedented nationally. In our investigation we found that their political ties clearly helped them secure that amount of money, once the money was secured, nobody seemed to be watching very closely on how it was spent 11 so I think those were the findings that were most glaring," Chicago Magazine Executive Editor, Cassie Walker Burke said.

The investigation also showed that under Rangel's leadership, a good chunk of the $49 million UNO received from the state, Cook County and Chicago in 2012 never made it to the classroom. Including $5 million in management fees and nearly a million to consultants.

And that's not all.

"Multi million dollar contracts to political insiders, six figure salaries for UNO executives, credit card spending, lot of credit card spending, 48-thousand dollars in restaurants in 2012, that's taxpayer money, as Cassie mentioned no one seemed to be watching or minding the store while all this was going on," BGA Senior Investigator Andrew Schroedter said.

According to a joint investigation by the Better Government Association and Chicago Magazine, UNO received a $98 million state grant that has since been suspended.

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