Juan Rangel stepped down as CEO of the influential United Neighborhood Organization, which administers 16 charter schools in Chicago and is currently under federal investigation.

Rangel's departure from the $250,000-a-year post, which became effective Friday, was "by mutual agreement," UNO said in a statement.

"We are thankful for Juan's leadership over the past two decades," UNO interim chairman Freddy Santiago said.

UNO tapped its chief of operations and procurement, Jesse Estrada, to serve as acting CEO.

The 48-year-old Rangel, one of the most influential Latinos in local politics for his ties with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Edward M. Burke and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, has not answered telephone calls nor has he issued any statement.

His resignation comes months after rumors about nepotism and conflicts of interest began circulating around the organization's administration, which led to a freezing of state funds for UNO.

In September a letter from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was divulged informing UNO that it was under investigation for its dealings in the bond market.

UNO, founded in 1980 as one of the leading Hispanic community groups in Chicago, started operating in the late 1990s as a chain of charter schools that currently includes 16 educational centers and more than 7,600 students.

"We know that UNO's management practices and policies must meet the highest standards and keep pace with the organization's growth," Freddy Santiago said Friday. EFE