LONG ISLAND — The driver of a car accident that killed rapper Nicki Minaj’s father last year has been sentenced on Wednesday to a year in prison, in line with a promise the judge made when the man pleaded guilty in May.
Charles Polevich, who pleaded guilty to leaving the crime scene and tampering with evidence in the Long Island crash in New York that killed Robert Maraj, was also sentenced to pay a $5,000 fine and driver’s license revoked for six months.
Polevich’s lawyer Marc Gann suggested that his client may have had a medical problem at the time of the crash and that he was not fully aware of what had happened when he fled.
Polevich, 72, said in court that he was “deeply saddened since he realized the magnitude of the tragedy” and that there was “no excuse” for his behaviour.
Maraj’s widow, Carol Maraj, said in court that Polevich had left her husband “like a dog on the street” and that it was a “slap in the face to the family” to spare him a longer jail term.
Polevich hit Maraj, 64, while Maraj walked along Roslyn Road in Mineola in February 2021. Polevich stopped to ask Maraj if he was okay, but did not call for help, prosecutors said.
Instead, Polevich went home, parked the car – a white 1992 Volvo station wagon – in his garage and covered it with a tarp, prosecutors said. Maraj was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead the next day.
Prosecutors demanded one to three years in prison, but Nassau County Judge Howard Sturim said in May, when Polevich pleaded guilty, that he would receive “no more than a year in prison.”
Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, said that “given the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct,” prosecutors felt a harsher sentence was warranted.
“We continue to extend our condolences to the family of Robert Maraj,” Brosh said.
Gann asked for a 90-day prison sentence, arguing that other factors beyond Polevich’s control were partially responsible for the crash, including road construction, streetlights that failed and Maraj’s physical condition.
Maraj’s widow, Carol Maraj, sues Polevich for the crash.
Polevich, who had split time between Long Island and Guam, where he runs a drilling and water treatment company, surrendered to police a few days after the crash.
Detectives said they used bits of surveillance video to track the Volvo involved in the crash to Polevich’s Mineola home.
Nicki Minaj, the platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated rapper of “Anaconda”, “Super Bass” and other hits, was born Onika Tanya Maraj in Trinidad and grew up in Queens.
In a post on her website, Minaj, 39, called her father’s death “the most devastating loss of my life.”
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