Never Too Old: Bank Robber Beaten by Korean War Veteran

Gabriel Baird

Plain Dealer reporter

When James Matteson eyed the man beside him in the U.S. Bank branch pulling on latex surgical gloves, the 70-year-old bar owner figured the guy was just one of those “weirdos who don’t handle money because it’s dirty.”

But the man, 39-year-old Daniel “Budda” Ginley, robbed two tellers, stuffing $5,344 into his pants, police said. Then Ginley, armed with a BB pistol and a utility knife, ordered the “old man” out of the way.

He didn’t know that on this Tuesday morning he was messing with the wrong senior citizen.

Matteson served in the Navy during the Korean War and over the last 16 years has thrown many a man out of his bar, Caruso’s, on Clark Avenue. After the incident at the bank at West 97th Street and Lorain Avenue, he went to Daytona Beach for a reunion of the Polish Legion of American Veterans, but talked about the melee over his cell phone.

“I grabbed him by the throat and threw him against the wall,” Matteson said.

Ginley sliced Matteson’s right arm with the knife, but Matteson didn’t stop. He threw Ginley to the floor. A security guard, Dwight Boiner, 36, and off-duty Cleveland Patrolman John Petrus, who just happened to be entering the bank, joined the fight and subdued the man.

Ginley was arrested and later charged with aggravated robbery and felonious assault.

That night, Matteson told Eileen, his wife of 13 months, about stopping the robbery.

“She said I’m getting a little too damn old to be doing this,” Matteson said.