Driver in Death of Nicki Minaj's Father Gets 1 Year

Charles Polevich says he is 'heartsick' over hit-and-run that killed Robert Maraj
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2022 2:10 PM CDT
Updated Aug 3, 2022 6:45 PM CDT
Driver in Death of Nicki Minaj's Father to Serve a Year at Most
Nicki Minaj presents an award in 2015.   (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

Update: The driver who killed rapper Nicki Minaj's father in a hit-and-run accident last year has been sentenced to a year in jail—the maximum that Judge Howard Sturim said he would receive under a plea deal. Charles Polevich, 72, who surrendered to police days after the February 2021 Long Island accident that killed Robert Maraj, told the court he had "been heartsick since realizing the extent of the tragedy," the AP reports. Maraj's widow, Carol Maraj, is suing Polevich. She said sparing him a longer sentence was a "slap in the face" for the family. Our story from May 7 follows:

The hit-and-run driver who struck the father of Nicki Minaj last year, killing him, has entered guilty pleas in a deal that will bring him a sentence of no more than a year behind bars—an outcome that upset prosecutors and the victim's widow. Charles Polevich pleaded guilty on Friday to felony charges of leaving the scene of a fatality and tampering with physical evidence, People reports. He admitted in court that he struck Robert Maraj in February 2021, left the area without reporting the accident, and covered his car with a tarp to hide it at his New York home. He later turned himself in. Maraj was 64.

Sentencing is scheduled for August, per Billboard, but Judge Howard Sturim told Polevich in court that the sentence would be "no more than one year in jail," plus community service and a suspended license, per the AP. A spokesperson said the Nassau County District Attorney's Office disagrees with the sentencing promise, "given the severity of the defendant's conduct." Carol Maraj told reporters she was angered by the outcome. After seeing Polevich in the courtroom, she said, "I started to shake because it brought back all the memories of that night when I was sitting in the hospital." Her husband was hit while walking on a roadway in Mineola. He died the next day.

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Nicki Minaj didn't publicly address her father's death until three months later. "Tho I can't really bring myself to discuss the passing of my father as yet; I can say it has been the most devastating loss of my life," the rapper wrote on her website. "I find myself wanting to call him all the time. More so now that he's gone. Life is funny that way." Polevich's lawyer said in a statement that Polevich, 71, "could not be more sorry for the loss of Mr. Maraj." (More Nicki Minaj stories.)

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