Man Who Killed Nicki Minaj's Dad in a Hit-and-Run Pleads Guilty, Will Get Less Than a Year in Jail

Charles Polevich struck and killed Robert Maraj in a hit-and-run in February 2021

Nicki Minaj and father
Nicki Minaj, Charles Maraj. Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images; Nicki Minaj/Instagram

The driver who killed Nicki Minaj's father in a hit-and-run has pleaded guilty to felony charges of leaving the scene of a fatality and tampering with physical evidence on Friday. He will get no more than a year in jail, a judge said.

In February 2021, Charles Polevich, 71, struck and killed Robert Maraj in a hit-and-run. Maraj was 64.

Polevich — who later surrendered — fled the scene after initially stopping and noticing that Maraj was significantly injured, according to police. (Maraj was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.) Polevich, who lives in Guam but has a house in Mineola, was charged days later. Nassau County Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said in a press conference at the time that Polevich was driving a 1992 Volvo Station Wagon, a car that's "more distinctive than modern cars." Using video footage from the neighboring cameras, police were able to trace the vehicle back to Polevich's address.

During his plea hearing on Friday, Polevich confessed to striking Maraj before taking off without reporting the crash to authorities. Polevich confirmed he put his Volvo under a tarp in an effort to hide it once he returned home, Newsday reported.

Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj. Anthony Harvey/Getty

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Howard Sturim told Polevich the conditions of the plea deal and said, according to the outlet, "I'll sentence you to no more than a year in jail."

Polevich was initially facing up to 11 years behind bars. Instead, after his release, he will complete community service and his license will be suspended, per the news outlet.

The Nassau County District Attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Nicki's mother and Maraj's wife, Carol Maraj, expressed her disappointment with the ruling and said, "I'm not happy with that... one year in jail. I'm not happy with that," according to Newsday.

"I was angry, very, very angry," Carol told the publication of seeing Polevich in court, adding, "I started to shake because it brought back all the memories of that night when I was sitting in the hospital."

Continued Carol, who is suing Polevich for $150 million in a civil lawsuit: "I'll say what I have to say at sentencing," Newsday said.

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Polevich's sentencing is scheduled for August, per Patch.

Marc Gann, Polevich's lawyer, told Billboard that Polevich is "extremely remorseful for any role he may have played in Mr. Maraj's death."

"Mr. Polevich's life story is one of helping others which makes this case so out of character," Gann added to Billboard. "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. Me. Polevich could not be more sorry for the loss of Mr. Maraj."

Gann did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Nicki broke her silence on her father's death in May 2021. Sharing a lengthy letter to fans on her website, the 39-year-old "Yikes" rapper wrote, "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."

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