‘If they didn’t work, they still got paid,’ ex-Raia campaign ‘captain’ testifies in Hoboken VBM trial


A former volunteer for Frank Raia’s 2013 Hoboken council and referendum campaigns testified this morning that workers routinely got paid for their votes, regardless if they performed campaign work or not.

Michael Holmes. Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“He said make sure you bring the ballots back to the club. They wanted every ballot open to see how they voted,” Michael Holmes said on the stand during direct questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal.

Holmes, arguably the most colorful witness in the case to date, said that he refused to bring open ballots back to Raia’s social club at 520 Jefferson St. because he knew it was illegal.

However, he still told voters they would receive a $50 check from either the Let the People Decide super PAC or the Bluewater Operations consulting company in exchange for their votes, even though he knew that was illegal, too.

Therefore, why would he do such a thing?

“That’s what Frank wanted,” he exclaimed, later rationalizing that “we were loyal to Frank.”

In at least a dozen instances, Holmes, who said he has been volunteering on political campaigns since 1977 when he was 16 years old, repeated the same line when asked if residents actually had to work in order to be paid.

“If anybody works they will get paid and if they vote they will get paid,” he said stoically.

Alan Zegas, Raia’s criminal defense attorney, tried to trip up Holmes, who testified as part of a cooperation agreement, but to no avail.

“I told the voters if they worked they would be paid and if they didn’t work they would be paid: let’s cut to the chase here my friend,” he said before U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini halted the tense exchange.

Holmesy further testified that his loyalty to Raia netted him significant financial benefits, such as attending five Super Bowl, various dinners, concerts, payment for his late wife’s funeral, a $3,000 loan and a vacation to the Bahamas.

He also testified that he had known Matt Calicchio, a political operative who revealed yesterday he worked for 5th Ward council candidate Eduardo Gonzalez in 2015, for over 10 years.

Zegas found it convenient that Holmes and Calicchio happened to run into each other  at Piccolos Cheesesteaks last night, but Holmes was again quick to push back.

“Let me tell you something my friend: I got dropped off at Piccolos and I didn’t talk to him at all,” also noting that he frequented the establishment seven days a week.

When asked if he considered himself a captain, Holmes said he didn’t and it wasn’t a term he was familiar with during the campaign since he routinely went by another name.

“I wasn’t known as anything, I was called ‘Big Holmesy.’ Just ‘Big Holmesy.'”

The government has said that more voters, along with one more “captain,” will testify after the lunch break.

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  1. Surprised he wasn’t asked about the “disability” payments he’s been collecting. I believe it’s from the Bd of Ed too. Not positive but wherever his “disability” payments are coming from, it’s clearly fraud.

    And I love his story about his “volunteering” on political campaigns since he’s 17. Holmes is a leg-breaker plain and simple. And I do mean simple. Hell, they’re all simple – holmes, callichio and pupie himself. They couldn’t read a damn comic book and make sense of it. But they can count.

    • This is probably part of his cooperation agreement that he’s not going to be prosecuted for the fake disability check he’s been collecting

  2. “Big Holmesy” as he calls himself loved to act tough in the street and intimate people at election time but we just saw how easy he folds. I feel sorry for everyone else he’s going to take down as apart of his cooperation agreement. If I was a “Big Holmesy” guy I’d distance myself before it’s too late or is it too late already?

  3. So these goons all took trips and money from Raia ( who paid for Raia’s lavish life, a vendor ? )
    Will Raia reveal any of his Deals with Zimmer and why he ran Timmy to divide OG
    Dividing the OG vote for Dawn… nuthin’ to see here!

  4. Two of Pupie’s morbidly obese guys under criminal charges for voter fraud, who both also live in taxpayer subsidized housing walk into Piccolos is a Hoboken coincidence. Is that the setup of the joke or the punchline ?

  5. Look at this “MSV PREMIUM RUBBISH” someone sent me TODAY…

    “In a series of body blows on day three of his trial, Frank “Pupie” Raia saw his social club on Jefferson Street flip on him as the government delivered a devastating set of witnesses against him Wednesday.. ”

    Yikes! What poorly-written amateurish drivel. Who in their right mind would PAY for that dreck! No wonder the barnyard bigot has 3 subscribers at most! And is a LIME JUICE BOY!

    “Hey baby, ever go out with a guy who juices scooters at 4 bucks a pop and has a dead blog with 3 subscribers?”


    “Does that turn you on?”


    “Wanna come to my place and watch me charge some scooters?”

    “Get the f*ck away from me, loser! And brush those smelly teeth!”

    “Sure, baby. Sure you don’t want to watch me carry that 40lb scooter up my front steps, stuff it into my dirty, miserable rental hole, and plug it in the wall? I know, other guys could take you out to a nice restaurant… but I have a 3 year-old can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup I was saving for a special occasion. I’d love to share it with you… with some moldy Ritz crackers I found on the floor of the incinerator room. Don’t worry, I chased the roaches off. And wiped off the mouse dung. Whaddaya say, sugar? ”

    ” HELP, POLICE!!!!”

    • Roman is in your head…. wow, talk about an obsession…
      You cave creatures need to stop living for Ravi because when he flees Hoboken your miserable lives will return.

    • Saw that published on Hobokenhorse.com, well done. Looks like both MSV and HCV are providing real coverage while Nancy has gone completely nuts and is off her meds. Besides, the real reporting Hoboken sites have the support of subscribers and advertisers while Nancy has only the paid political operative compensation from Ravi Bhalla.

      • ooooh… stung ya! Your site SUCKS. Your writing SUCKS. Your comments SUCK. Your traffic SUCKS. And (drumroll pleasse…) you juice LIMES! So life plain SUCKS.

        Public Service Announcement: The only one getting paid is ROMAN @ $4 per scooter. It only takes 5 hours to juice them, one by one by one. Have you made enough $ today to buy a can of soup?

  6. I hope Holmes aka Rat can walk around Hoboken with his head held high knowing he’s the reason Frank Raia will be in jail. Holmes is the reason frank will miss birthdays and holidays with his family while “Big Holmesy” laughs it up in his next campaign headquarters

  7. Who could forget Dawn Zimmer, her husband Stan and their friends all living it up at Pupies Birthday Parties!?!
    One week he’s good, then bad.. then good…

    Who could forget Dawn and Stan trashing their loyalist Mike Lenz when he lost to Tim’s massive VBM scheme.

  8. Big Fat Man Campaigning since 1977 taught Frank the abstentee ballot process back in the day from his prior experience. He lied through his RAT FANGS on the witness stand. Frank also gave him an extra 150 lbs!!!

  9. I find it odd that a man who claims he is too disabled to work and collects a monthly disability check but is able enough to do all that political campaign leg work Lucky he has taxpayer Hoboken taxpayer subsidized apartment for life to help stretch that disability check between Super Bowl trips and freebie dinners