Driver who fatally hit Nicki Minaj's dad to get no more than 1 year in jail, judge says
A Nassau judge plans to sentence the driver who fatally struck superstar rapper Nicki Minaj's father in a hit-and-run crash to no more than a year in jail under a deal the victim's widow criticized while leaving court Friday.
Charles Polevich, 71, of Mineola, pleaded guilty to felony charges of leaving the scene of a fatal crash and tampering with physical evidence after the encounter that ended the life of Robert Maraj, 64.
Maraj was walking in the roadway at about 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2021, when Polevich struck him with his 1992 white Volvo station wagon on Roslyn Road at Raff Avenue in Mineola, according to authorities.
Polevich admitted Friday in Nassau County Court that he hit Maraj and then left the scene before failing to report to police the crash that ended the Mineola man's life.
The driver also agreed in court that he had hidden his Volvo under a tarp when he got home.
"I'll sentence you to no more than a year in jail," acting State Supreme Court Justice Howard Sturim told Polevich, explaining terms of the deal Friday.
The judge also said Polevich, who faced up to 11 years in prison, would have to do community service and his driver's license would be suspended.
"One year in jail. I'm not happy with that," the victim's widow, Carol Maraj, said immediately after the plea hearing.
She said she became emotional in court upon seeing Polevich.
"I was angry, very, very angry. I started to shake because it brought back all the memories of that night when I was sitting in the hospital," Maraj added.
The victim died the day after the crash at a local hospital after emergency surgery wasn't enough to save his life, according to authorities.
Maraj's widow also said Friday that she would save the words she had for the defendant until Aug. 3, when he'll learn his punishment.
"I'll say what I have to say at sentencing," she added.
Nassau police said at the time of Polevich's arrest days after the crash that he was "absolutely aware of what happened" when he hit Maraj.
The motorist got out of his Volvo and looked at the pedestrian, then got back into the vehicle and drove away instead of dialing 911, according to the homicide squad commander.
A felony complaint also alleged Polevich stood over Maraj and asked him if "he was OK" before returning to his car and leaving.
Video surveillance recordings in the neighborhood helped lead police to Polevich as they worked to track the movements of his Volvo.
Nassau District Attorney's Office spokesman Brendan Brosh said in a statement Friday that prosecutors recommended a sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison for Polevich.
"Given the severity of the defendant's conduct, we disagree with the sentencing commitment from the court," he added.
Polevich's attorney, Marc Gann, said after court that his client was remorseful and wanted to take responsibility for his actions. He said he believed Polevich may have been suffering from "a medical issue" immediately after the crash.
"None of us can fathom why he left the scene of this incident, because there's no allegation of substance abuse. His license was in good order. He had insurance. And it's completely out of character for him to have left somebody there the way that he did," he added.
Gann said he believed the judge had taken into account his client's life of good work when fashioning the promised sentence.
Polevich owns an environmental drilling company in Guam and also has a home there, police said previously. They also said he has no prior criminal history or record of driving offenses.
Maraj wouldn't comment Friday on the $150 million lawsuit she filed against Polevich in State Supreme Court. A conference in that case, which records show Polevich is fighting to have dismissed, is scheduled for next month.