NEW YORK — The driver of the car that fatally struck rapper Nicki Minaj’s father last year was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison, according to a promise a judge made when the man pleaded guilty in May.
Charles Polevich, who pleaded guilty to fleeing the scene of the crash and changing evidence in the Long Island, New York, crash that killed Robert Maraj, will also be fined $5,000 and will have his driver’s license suspended for six months.
Polevich’s attorney, Marc Gann, suggested his client may have had a health problem at the time of the crash and was not fully aware of what had happened when he fled.RELATED
Polevich, 72, said in court that he has been “devastated ever since he realized the scale of the tragedy” and that there was “no excuse” for his behaviour.
Maraj’s widow, Carol Maraj, said in court that Polevich left her husband “like a dog in the street” and that the fact that he was not given a longer sentence was a “slap in the face to the family,” Newsday reported. .
Polevich hit Maraj, 64, as he was walking down Roslyn Road in Mineola in February 2021. Polevich stopped briefly 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 were asking for a sentence of one to three years behind bars, 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 “given the severity of the defendant’s conduct,” prosecutors felt a harsher sentence was warranted.
“We continue to express our condolences to the family of Robert Maraj,” Brosh said.
Gann asked for a 90-day prison sentence, arguing that the crash could be blamed on other factors beyond Polevich’s control, including the layout of the street, street lighting that was not working and Maraj’s physical condition.
The widow planned to file a civil lawsuit against Polevich over the crash.
Polevich, who split his residence between Long Island and Guam, where he has a drilling and water purification business, turned himself in to police a few days after the accident.
Detectives said they used security camera video to track the Volvo involved to Polevich’s home in Mineola.
The real name of Nicki Minaj, the popular Grammy-nominated rapper known for hits like “Anaconda” and “Super Bass,” is Onika Tanya Maraj. She was born 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.”