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Driver pleads guilty over hit-and-run crash that killed Nicki Minaj’s father

A hit-and-run driver pleaded guilty on Friday over a crash that killed the father of Nicki Minaj in New York State (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
A hit-and-run driver pleaded guilty on Friday over a crash that killed the father of Nicki Minaj in New York State (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

A hit-and-run driver pleaded guilty on Friday over a crash that killed the father of Nicki Minaj in New York state.

In state court in Long Island’s Nassau County, businessman Charles Polevich, 71, admitted leaving the scene of the February 2021 accident that fatally injured Robert Maraj, 64, as he walked along a road in Mineola.

Polevich was promised a year or less in jail, disappointing prosecutors and the hip hop star’s mother.

He had initially got out of his car and looked at the injured man on the ground, but then drove off, did not call emergency services, put his car in a garage and covered it with a tarpaulin, authorities said.

Nicki Minaj attending the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala 2019 in New York, USA
Nicki Minaj’s mother told reporters she was ‘not happy’ with the planned sentence (PA)

Maraj died in hospital the next day.

Polevich pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence by concealing the car.

Judge Howard Sturim said Polevich would get “no more than one year in jail,” along with community service and a suspended licence. The 71-year-old is due to be sentenced on August 3.

The victim’s widow, Carol Maraj, told reporters she was “not happy” with the planned sentence.

The widow, who is suing Polevich, said seeing him in court left her shaking at the memory of her husband fighting for his life in the hospital.

Prosecutors, who sought a one-to-three-year prison sentence, also took issue with the planned penalty.

“Given the severity of the defendant’s conduct, we disagree with the sentencing commitment from the court,” Nassau County District Attorney’s office spokesperson Brendan Brosh said in a statement.

Polevich’s lawyer, Marc Gann, called the hit-and-run “completely out of character” for his client, who hails from Long Island but has a drilling and water purification business in Guam in the Western Pacific.

“He does feel tremendous empathy for Mr Maraj’s family and tremendous remorse for any role he played in his death,” Gann said by phone after court.

He suggested that Polevich might have had a medical problem that made him not “fully aware of what he was doing,” while noting that it was not a legal justification.

Nicki Minaj attending the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards held at The Forum in Los Angeles, USA
The performer called her father’s death ‘the most devastating loss of my life’ (PA)

Messages were sent to representatives for Nicki Minaj, who called her father’s death “the most devastating loss of my life” in a post on her website last year.

The platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated rapper — known for tracks including Anaconda, Starships and Super Bass — was born Onika Tanya Maraj but performs as Nicki Minaj.

She had described a troubled relationship with her father, but later said he had changed.

After his death, she wrote about wishing she could pick up the phone and talk to him.

“He was very loved and will be very missed,” Minaj said.

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