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UNO deal helped its VP’s brother build company

Rodrigo d'EscoJr.

Rodrigo d'Escoto Jr.

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Updated: May 23, 2013 6:11AM

Before he and a partner started Reflection Window Co. in 2001, Rodrigo d’Escoto had struggled in business.

Another company he owned had gone bankrupt that year, court records show.

Things were also tough in the early days for Reflection Window, d’Escoto said in an interview Feb. 4 with an official of the city of Chicago’s minority-business certification program.

“Mr. d’Escoto explained that the first few years of the business were very slow, and the company had no real value,” city records show.

D’Escoto — who had owned half of the company — bought out 90 percent of his partner’s stake for just $100 in 2004, the records show. The following year, he took full ownership, paying $23,000 to buy out his partner’s remaining interest in the company.

It’s proved to be a wise investment for d’Escoto, thanks in good measure to state-funded, charter-school construction deals that Reflection Window landed with United Neighborhood Organization while his brother Miguel d’Escoto was a top UNO executive.

Reflection Window stands to make close to $10 million from three state-funded UNO projects. The company has been paid about $6.7 million for work on two UNO charter elementary schools, and it has a contract for another $3.1 million to help build the group’s new Soccer Academy High School on the Southwest Side, the Sun-Times has reported.

Payments from UNO accounted for more than 57 percent of Reflection Window’s total revenue of more than $7.6 million in 2011, according to documents the company provided to City Hall that also show “distributions” to d’Escoto nearly doubled in two years. In 2009 — the year before the company started working for UNO — he made $368,250, according to Reflection Window’s filings with the city. By 2011, the records show, that figure had soared to $727,523.

Asked about the UNO work, Rodrigo d’Escoto would not answer questions but emailed a statement in which he said: “Reflection Window has been able to bid and win many projects with multiple general contractors over the last 10 years. These projects have included a variety of public and private owners and include award-winning buildings.”

His company’s work can be seen in the striking glass-and-metal siding in which it clad the UNO Soccer Academy Charter Elementary School at 5050 S. Homan Ave. and the UNO Galewood Charter at 2050 N. Natchez Ave.

Juan Rangel, UNO’s chief executive officer, has told state officials UNO didn’t directly hire Reflection Window; its general contractors did. The general contractors, though, were chosen by Rangel with input from other UNO officials, including Miguel d’Escoto, and on the recommendation of UNO’s “owner’s representative” — d’Escoto Inc., owned by another d’Escoto brother, Federico “Fred” d’Escoto.

Republic Window’s contract called for it to be paid a little over $4 million for the Soccer Elementary School job, but, because of changes that were later ordered, it ended up being paid more than $4.4 million.

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