Northern Ohio Chapter: Virtually Thriving

January 21, 2021, marked another Northern Ohio ACAMS Chapter virtual learning event titled “Trafficking in Arts and Antiquities.” Tess Davis and Liz Fraccaro of the Antiquities Coalition presented some of their work and several relevant case studies designed to show the intersection between works of cultural heritage (i.e., art and antiquities) and the world of money laundering and terrorist financing. The Antiquities Coalition is a policy think tank and advocacy organization dedicated to the interdiction of cultural racketeering and looting cultural heritage sites to finance terrorism.

Davis, executive director of the Antiquities Coalition, is a trained archeologist and law professor. She oversees the organization’s work and manages the day-to-day operations of the Antiquities Coalition’s staff in Washington D.C. and its overseas programs. Davis teaches cultural law at Johns Hopkins University and Tulane University School of Law.

Fraccaro, project manager of the Antiquities Coalition, is a trained archeologist and lawyer. She has extensive experience in curating museum collections and field archeology prior to attending law school, where she concentrated on art, museum and cultural heritage law. Fraccaro is dedicated to preserving and protecting cultural heritage worldwide and contributes extensive expertise in the field of cultural heritage management and international human rights.

The presentation by Davis and Fraccaro dove into a very enlightening collection of case studies curated by the Financial Crimes Task Force of the Antiquities Coalition, a joint effort of the Antiquities Coalition and ACAMS volunteers. This task force endeavors to increase the visibility of cultural racketeering and looting within the anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) community and advocated for adoption of AML/CTF protocols within the art and antiquities dealer community. The task force’s first report, “Reframing U.S. Policy on the Art Market: Recommendations for Combating Financial Crime,” was published in September 2020.1

This outstanding Northern Ohio Chapter virtual event was attended by 130 chapter members.

Chapter Background

The ACAMS Northern Ohio Chapter was founded in 2014 with the hope that it would have enough interest and support to join the family of sustainable ACAMS Chapters. Due to the dedication of the founding board members led by Bill Cloninger, the chapter quickly grew and through strong sponsorships became part of the ACAMS Chapters’ family. The Northern Ohio Chapter has an engaged membership of approximately 170 members. The chapter’s logo features a Stratocaster guitar, emblematic of Cleveland’s prominence in the early days of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland (representative of the city’s deep connection to rock and roll culture) and the term “rock and roll” was coined by Cleveland radio personality Alan Freed in the 1950s.

Today, the chapter’s robust board of directors is led by co-chairmen John Moody and Jim Hixenbaugh. The full board is made up of 15 members, each of which serve a three-year term. These terms of office are staggered so that only five director positions are elected each year. The director term limit is capped at two consecutive terms before the director must sit out for at least one year.

The chapter is supported by eight sponsors, which help finance all chapter activities. These sponsors include two higher education institutions, a casino, and several financial institutions (FIs) and other companies active in the anti-financial crime arena. Sponsor representatives comprise the Sponsor Advisory Council, which advises the board of directors on chapter activities.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chapter averaged 14 educational events annually. There would be six main events held at venues donated by chapter sponsors. Speakers have ranged from local law enforcement to many well-known speakers who have presented at the ACAMS national conferences. These main events averaged approximately 100 attendees, indicative of an amazingly high level of member engagement. In addition, the chapter has presented a series of informal lectures in a joint effort with Case Western Reserve University Financial Integrity Institute’s master’s degree program in financial integrity, called “The Happy Dog Lectures.” This series of lectures was initially held at the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, where event speakers would present from the same stage that several Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honorees (e.g., Joan Jett, Green Day) performed on early in their careers.

Over the last four years, the chapter has partnered with Cleveland IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI Cleveland Field Office on presenting full-day symposiums for FIs and law enforcement.

Since the COVID-19 crisis, the Northern Ohio Chapter has conducted five very successful virtual events, each with approximately 120 attendees.

Bill Cloninger, CAMS, Northern Ohio Chapter director

John Moody, CAMS, Northern Ohio Chapter co-chair

Jim Hixenbaugh, CAMS, Northern Ohio Chapter co-chair

  1. “Reframing U.S. Policy on the Art Market: Recommendations for Combating Financial Crime,” The Antiquities Coalition, September 2020,

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