MINEOLA, NY — The driver of the car that struck the father of rapper Nicki Minaj left him on a Long Island roadway, without calling him an ambulance and then hid his car from detectives, Nassau County police said.
Charles Polevich, 70, a resident of Guam who has a second home in Mineola, asked Robert Maraj if “he was ok” as he laid on a Mineola street, and then he got back into his car and left, court records show.
Polevich’s white 1992 Volvo station wagon struck Maraj on Friday night as he was walking on Roslyn Road at about 6:15 p.m., said Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, commanding officer of Nassau’s Homicide Squad in a press briefing at police headquarters Wednesday.
“He was absolutely aware,” Fitzpatrick said. “He got out of his car and looked at [Maraj], and got into his car and made the conscious decision to leave, instead of calling 911, instead of calling an ambulance for the man.”
Maraj, 64, was eventually transported to a local hospital in “critical condition,” police said.
“During that time, our detectives were scouring the neighborhood for video surveillance tracking that Volvo,” Fitzpatrick said.
Detectives were able to locate Polevich, who does not have any prior criminal history, using pieces of surveillance video from the neighborhood that caught Polevich’s Volvo before and after it struck Maraj, he said.
The Volvo was a late model and “more distinctive than modern cars” which made it easier for police to track it down to Polevich’s house where he had it hidden under a tarp, Fitzpatrick said.
Detectives were not able to test Polevich for drugs or alcohol because of the length of time between the accident and his arrest, he said.
Polevich’s whereabouts in the hours preceding the crash are known to detectives, Fitpatrick said, however, he did not release any further details.
Maraj died from his injuries in the hospital on Saturday.
Detectives have spoken with Maraj’s family throughout their investigation, and it is believed that Maraj, who lived in Mineola, was walking to a home or a local store, Fitzpatrick said.
“We are in constant touch with the family,” he said.
Polevich turned himself in to police on Wednesday, the New York Post reported. He was charged with leaving the scene of an auto accident with a fatality and tampering with evidence.
He entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead on Wednesday and will likely be released on a $250,000 bond, said his attorney, Michael Scotto of Garden City. As part of the bond package, Polevich’s driver’s license has been suspended, preventing him from driving and he will surrender his passport, Scotto said.
“We will continue to speak to the [District Attorney’s office] regarding this case,” he said.
Scotto went on to describe Maraj’s death as a “tragic accident,” adding, that his thoughts and that of his client’s “are with the Maraj family.”
Polevich faces up to seven years in a state prison, if he is convicted on the top charge of leaving the scene of an accident with a fatality.
Known by her professional name, Minaj, 38, was born Onika Tanya Maraj in Trinidad and Tobago, but grew up in South Jamaica, Queens, Newsday reported. Minaj has not publicly commented on her father’s death, but she has spoken out in a 2012 interview with Nightline, saying that her father struggled with an alcohol and drug addiction and was abusive, the Daily News reported.
Celebrity news site TMZ reported there are photographs of Minaj and her father together over the years showing that they had a decent relationship.
Despite her fame, Minaj has had her share of heartbreak and family tragedy.
Her brother, Jelani Maraj of Baldwin, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2020 for repeatedly raping an 11-year-old girl. A family attorney told Newsday, Maraj’s father, Robert, was present during the trial of her brother and loved him dearly.