Driver gets 1 year in prison for death of Nicki Minaj’s father

MINEOLA, New York (AP) — A driver involved in an accident that killed rapper Nicki Minaj’s father last year was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison, in line with a promise made by a judge when the man pleaded guilty in May.

Charles Polewicz, who pleaded guilty to fleeing the scene and tampering with evidence in a New York Long Island accident that killed Robert Maraj, was also sentenced to pay a $5,000 fine and forfeit his driving license for six months.

Polewicz’s lawyer, Mark Gunn, suggested that his client may have had health problems at the time of the crash and that he was not fully aware of what had happened when he fled.

Polevich, 72, told the court that he had “a gloomy heart ever since he realized the magnitude of the tragedy” and that there was “no justification” for his behavior.

Polevic hit Maraj, 64, while Maraj was walking down Roslyn Road in Mineola in February 2021. According to prosecutors, Polevich briefly stopped to ask Maraj if he was all right, but did not call for help.

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 the hospital, where he was pronounced dead the next day.

Prosecutors wanted a sentence of one to three years in prison, but Nassau County Judge Howard Stoorim said in May when Polevitch pleaded guilty that he would receive “no more than one year in prison.”

Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, said that “given the severity of the defendant’s behavior,” prosecutors deemed a harsher sentence justified.

“We continue to express our condolences to the family of Robert Marage,” Brosh said.

Gunn demanded a 90-day prison sentence, arguing that other factors beyond Polewicz’s control, including road construction, broken street lights, and Maraj’s physical condition, were partly to blame for the accident.

Maraj’s widow, Carol Maraj, is suing Polevitch over the accident.

Polevich, who worked between Long Island and Guam, where he drilled and cleaned water, turned himself in to police a few days after the crash.

Detectives said they used fragments of surveillance video to track the Volvo involved in the crash to Polevic’s home in Mineola.

Nicki Minaj, a platinum-winning, Grammy-nominated rapper for “Anaconda”, “Super Bass” and more 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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