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County to check minority status of contractor banned by Chicago

Thursday, April 14, 2005
Chicago Tribune
by Mickey Ciokajlo

Cook County's contract compliance office will examine the minority certification of Faustech Industries now that the City of Chicago has banned the firm from doing city business for the next three years, a county official said Wednesday.

The county waited for the city to act even though a federal magistrate four years ago harshly criticized Faustech's role in a $49 million Cook County deal that was later voided and is the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The county never investigated Faustech because there is no question that it is a minority-owned business, said Betty Hancock Perry, the county's contract compliance administrator.

Perry said the county did not seek sanctions against Faustech or Siemens Medical Systems, the firm with which it had formed a joint venture for the deal, because the contract was negated.

"I don't think we did anything, because it never went forth," Perry told county commissioners at a meeting of the Contract Compliance Committee, its first in eight years.

After the meeting, Perry told reporters that the county will look into its certification of Faustech after the city on Tuesday announced that it was removing the company from its set-aside program. Faustech owner Faust Villazan and his lawyer could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Perry said the county would review the status of any company that the city had banned. The county operates its own certification program but also recognizes the companies approved by the city and other agencies when awarding contracts.

The city removed Faustech because it determined the company acted as a broker rather than a manufacturer or distributor, which is not allowed under city rules. The county permits brokers, although that is under review, Perry said.

Since the ill-fated $49 million deal for radiological equipment for Stroger Hospital, Faustech has continued to do business with Cook County.

Last week, commissioners formally approved a contract for $13,852.62 with Faustech to provide receptacle liners and containers for the Bureau of Health Services.

"All of this should have been red flags from the beginning, and they should have been dealt with appropriately then," said County Commissioner Mike Quigley, who said Faustech should be banned from county business.

The committee deferred Quigley's proposal to outsource the certification and oversight of its minority set-aside program.

Also Wednesday, Perry said her office's investigation into the status of Crucial Communications LLC is ongoing. Perry said she is waiting for the firm's response to her request for additional information.

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