By Kiely Westhoff
A hit-and-run driver has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a suburban New York crash that killed rapper Nicki Minaj’s father, prosecutors say.
Charles Polevich, 71, on Friday admitted to leaving the scene of the February 2021 accident that fatally injured Robert Maraj and tampering with evidence, according to Nassau County District Attorney spokesman Brendan Brosh.
Nassau County Judge Howard Sturim committed Polevich to “no more than one year in jail,” with community service and license suspension, according to Brosh. Polevich is due back in court August 3 for the official sentencing.
The Nassau County District Attorney, who recommended a sentence of one to three years, expressed disappointment with the sentencing commitment.
“Given the severity of the defendant’s conduct, we disagree with the sentencing commitment from the court,” Brosh said in a statement to CNN.
An attorney for Polevich, Marc Gann, told CNN in a statement Sunday, “Mr. Polevich is extremely remorseful for any role he may have played in Mr. Maraj’s death. There are no allegations of substance use or abuse as causative of his conduct and it is our belief that a medical heart issue contributed to Mr. Polevich’s conduct.”
Maraj, 64, who police previously confirmed to CNN was Minaj’s father, had been walking in Mineola, Long Island, in the evening when he was “was struck by a northbound, undescribed, vehicle that left the scene of the accident,” the Nassau County Police Department said in February 2021.
Maraj later died at the hospital, police said.
Nassau Police Homicide Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick previously told CNN that after the incident, Polevich altered and hid his white Volvo station wagon in an attempt to hide it from police. Through security footage, police were able to track the car back to the suspect’s house, he said.
“He’s absolutely aware of what happened,” Fitzpatrick said. “He got out of the car and he looked at the deceased, got into his car and made the conscious decision to leave. Instead of dialing 911, instead of calling an ambulance for the man, he went and went home and secreted his vehicle.”
In a letter posted on her website last May, Minaj wrote of her devastation at her father’s death.
“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. I find myself wanting to call him all the time. More so now that he’s gone. Life is funny that way. May his soul rest in paradise. He was very loved & will be very missed,” she said at the time.
CNN has reached out to Carol Maraj as well as a representative for Nicki Minaj for comment on the sentencing commitment.
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CNN’s Susannah Cullinane, Marianne Garvey and Taylor Romine contributed to this report.