Carol Maraj, widow of Robert Maraj and defense attorney Marc Gann speak after the sentencing of Charles Polevich. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

The driver who struck rapper Nicki Minaj’s father in a deadly hit-and-run crash in Mineola last year will serve a 1-year jail sentence for his crimes, a Nassau judge announced Wednesday.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Howard Sturim also ordered Charles Polevich, 72, of Mineola, to pay a $5,000 fine and suspended his driver's license.

It was a penalty the victim's widow, Carol Maraj, decried in court as an insult to grieving relatives.

"One year? That's a slap on the face for the family," she told the judge.

She recalled Robert Maraj's injuries as including a cracked skull, crushed pelvis and broken neck and said Polevich "just left him like a dog on the street."

Polevich hit the 64-year-old pedestrian with his Volvo station wagon about 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2021, as Maraj was walking on Roslyn Road at Raff Avenue, according to authorities.

In May, Polevich pleaded guilty to felony charges of leaving the scene of a fatal crash and tampering with physical evidence. He admitted he had hidden his Volvo under a tarp when he got home after failing to report the crash.

Maraj, also a resident of Mineola, died a day later after emergency surgery wasn't enough to save his life. 

Polevich's attorney, Marc Gann, said in court he believed his client — who has a history of heart problems — suffered a cardiac episode around the time of the collision that resulted in him leaving the scene.

"He has absolutely no recollection of what he did thereafter," Gann said, recalling how Polevich went home, covered up the Volvo and left for a pre-planned trip to Pennsylvania where a loved one persuaded him to seek medical care.

Gann said Polevich "is a man who has given himself to service of others," including by operating a business that brought clean water to Guam and participating in animal rescue efforts.

The defense attorney added that there were no allegations of substance abuse regarding Polevich. He previously has said that his client owns an environmental drilling company in Guam and had vehicle insurance and a good driving record.

In court, Gann also pointed to construction on Roslyn Road, street lights that were out in the area and that the victim was walking in the roadway while "his physical condition certainly was in question," as he lobbied for a 90-day jail sentence for his client.

Gann said -- when pressed after court -- that an autopsy showed Maraj had alcohol and fentanyl in his system at the time of the crash.

"I've been heartsick since realizing the extent of the tragedy," Polevich said in court, before adding he felt "deep sadness and remorse" for the loss of Maraj's life.

The defendant also apologized to the victim's family and asked for forgiveness. He said he offered "no excuse" for his behavior, but believed he may not have had "a fully functional mind" at the time of the encounter.

 Police have said Polevich was "absolutely aware of what happened" when he hit Maraj. They said Polevich got out of his Volvo and looked at the pedestrian before getting back into the vehicle and driving away.

A felony complaint also said Polevich stood over Maraj and asked him if "he was OK."

Video surveillance helped lead police to Polevich, authorities said. 

Prosecutor Tara DePalo said in court that Polevich "saw the victim was hurt" and still drove away before covering up his car. She said the Nassau District Attorney's Office had recommended a 1- to 3-year prison sentence for Polevich.

By law, he had faced up to 11 years in prison.

Sturim said Polevich's decision to leave the scene was "a cold and callous reaction" to the collision, but that the driver's criminality wasn't the cause of the victim's death.

The judge added that Polevich's disregard for the victim was "inexcusable" and compounded by his efforts to hide the Volvo.

 "We continue to express our condolences to the family of Robert Maraj," District Attorney's Office spokesman Brendan Brosh said in a statement later Wednesday. 

Carol Maraj said outside the courthouse that her husband had been a union electrician who had worked on bridge and railroad projects.

"My children had to celebrate his birthday by looking at a grave," she added.

The mother said Minaj has been "very, very sad" about her father's death and that before he died Robert Maraj had planned to visit Minaj in California.

"Robert was packed and ready to go see his newest grandson," Carol Maraj said of Minaj's son.

 She declined to comment on her lawsuit against Polevich. 

The driver who struck rapper Nicki Minaj’s father in a deadly hit-and-run crash in Mineola last year will serve a 1-year jail sentence for his crimes, a Nassau judge announced Wednesday.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Howard Sturim also ordered Charles Polevich, 72, of Mineola, to pay a $5,000 fine and suspended his driver's license.

It was a penalty the victim's widow, Carol Maraj, decried in court as an insult to grieving relatives.

"One year? That's a slap on the face for the family," she told the judge.

She recalled Robert Maraj's injuries as including a cracked skull, crushed pelvis and broken neck and said Polevich "just left him like a dog on the street."

Polevich hit the 64-year-old pedestrian with his Volvo station wagon about 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2021, as Maraj was walking on Roslyn Road at Raff Avenue, according to authorities.

In May, Polevich pleaded guilty to felony charges of leaving the scene of a fatal crash and tampering with physical evidence. He admitted he had hidden his Volvo under a tarp when he got home after failing to report the crash.

Maraj, also a resident of Mineola, died a day later after emergency surgery wasn't enough to save his life. 

Polevich's attorney, Marc Gann, said in court he believed his client — who has a history of heart problems — suffered a cardiac episode around the time of the collision that resulted in him leaving the scene.

Charles Polevich at the Nassau County Courthouse for sentencing on...

Charles Polevich at the Nassau County Courthouse for sentencing on Wednesday in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

"He has absolutely no recollection of what he did thereafter," Gann said, recalling how Polevich went home, covered up the Volvo and left for a pre-planned trip to Pennsylvania where a loved one persuaded him to seek medical care.

Gann said Polevich "is a man who has given himself to service of others," including by operating a business that brought clean water to Guam and participating in animal rescue efforts.

The defense attorney added that there were no allegations of substance abuse regarding Polevich. He previously has said that his client owns an environmental drilling company in Guam and had vehicle insurance and a good driving record.

In court, Gann also pointed to construction on Roslyn Road, street lights that were out in the area and that the victim was walking in the roadway while "his physical condition certainly was in question," as he lobbied for a 90-day jail sentence for his client.

Gann said -- when pressed after court -- that an autopsy showed Maraj had alcohol and fentanyl in his system at the time of the crash.

"I've been heartsick since realizing the extent of the tragedy," Polevich said in court, before adding he felt "deep sadness and remorse" for the loss of Maraj's life.

The defendant also apologized to the victim's family and asked for forgiveness. He said he offered "no excuse" for his behavior, but believed he may not have had "a fully functional mind" at the time of the encounter.

 Police have said Polevich was "absolutely aware of what happened" when he hit Maraj. They said Polevich got out of his Volvo and looked at the pedestrian before getting back into the vehicle and driving away.

A felony complaint also said Polevich stood over Maraj and asked him if "he was OK."

Video surveillance helped lead police to Polevich, authorities said. 

Prosecutor Tara DePalo said in court that Polevich "saw the victim was hurt" and still drove away before covering up his car. She said the Nassau District Attorney's Office had recommended a 1- to 3-year prison sentence for Polevich.

By law, he had faced up to 11 years in prison.

Sturim said Polevich's decision to leave the scene was "a cold and callous reaction" to the collision, but that the driver's criminality wasn't the cause of the victim's death.

The judge added that Polevich's disregard for the victim was "inexcusable" and compounded by his efforts to hide the Volvo.

 "We continue to express our condolences to the family of Robert Maraj," District Attorney's Office spokesman Brendan Brosh said in a statement later Wednesday. 

Carol Maraj said outside the courthouse that her husband had been a union electrician who had worked on bridge and railroad projects.

"My children had to celebrate his birthday by looking at a grave," she added.

The mother said Minaj has been "very, very sad" about her father's death and that before he died Robert Maraj had planned to visit Minaj in California.

"Robert was packed and ready to go see his newest grandson," Carol Maraj said of Minaj's son.

 She declined to comment on her lawsuit against Polevich. 

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