The Long Island man who last year killed rapper Nicki Minaj’s 64-year-old father in a car crash, fled the scene and then tampered with evidence was allowed on Friday to plead guilty in exchange for a guarantee of a sentence not to exceed a year in jail.
“Charles Polevich, 71, of Mineola, pleaded guilty to felony charges of leaving the scene of a fatal crash and tampering with physical evidence after the encounter that ended the life of Robert Maraj, 64,” according to local newspaper Newsday.
Yet despite Polevich facing 11 years in prison, acting State Supreme Court Justice Howard Sturim vowed to sentence him to “no more than one year in jail,” in addition to community service and a suspended license.
Polevich won’t actually be sentenced until Aug. 3rd.
The outcome of his case nevertheless follows a pattern that’s particularly prevalent in blue localities like New York City, where lax judges keep doling out light sentences to convicts guilty of committing heinous crimes.
A similar trend has been observed with judges releasing suspects accused of committing heinous crimes:
Judge releases teen double-murder suspect with ankle bracelet using leftist group’s ‘safety tool’ https://t.co/CwBaJid8s4
— Jack Furnari (@JackBPR) March 24, 2022
Earlier this very same week in Providence, Rhode Island, a suspect in a fatal hit-and-run was released on bail, outraging the victim’s family.
“Domingo Grave-Castro, 40, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. He turned himself in Sunday, hours after police say he struck Violet Barracks, 76, as she crossed Union Avenue near the Route 10 off-ramp, then drove off,” as reported by local station WPRI.
Barracks is reportedly the aunt of state Rep. Marcia R. Ranglin-Vassell, a “progressive Democrat,” and Lisa Ranglin, the president of the Rhode Island Black Business Association. Both were outraged by Grave-Castro’s release:
I spoke with @MRanglinVassell, @LisaRanglin & brother Desmond outside court. They’re outraged Castro was sitting behind them in the courtroom and was able to walk in, walk out on bail. They said they had no warning or indication this would be the case, want systemic changes. https://t.co/nRfSCjw43g
— Kait Walsh (@KaitLouiseWalsh) May 2, 2022
Two weeks ago in Atlanta meanwhile, a judge ordered the release of a gang member reportedly accused of firing six shots at a police officer. But in this rare case, a local prosecutor was thankfully able to intervene and stop the release, as reported by Fox News.
Returning to Polevich’s case, according to Newsday, “Maraj was walking in the roadway at about 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2021, when Polevich struck him with his 1992 white Volvo station wagon on Roslyn Road at Raff Avenue in Mineola.”
Polevich reportedly got out of his car, looked at Maraj, asked him if he’s OK, got back in his car, drove off without calling 911, parked his car in a garage and then covered it up with a tarp to hide it.
The authorities reportedly tracked the killing to him by viewing video surveillance recordings of the neighborhood.
Maraj meanwhile “died the day after the crash at a local hospital after emergency surgery wasn’t enough to save his life,” according to Newsday.
Given Polevich’s culpability and his attempt to hide his crime, Maraj’s family isn’t happy with him being promised just a year in jail tops.
“One year in jail. I’m not happy with that. I was angry, very, very angry. I started to shake because it brought back all the memories of that night when I was sitting in the hospital,” Maraj’s wife, Carol Maraj, who by the way is Minaj’s mother, told Newsday after Friday’s hearing.
The prosecution is also displeased with the outcome of the case.
“Given the severity of the defendant’s conduct, we disagree with the sentencing commitment from the court,” Nassau District Attorney’s Office spokesman Brendan Brosh reportedly said in a statement.
It’s not clear how Minaj, whose real name is Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty, feels about the outcome. The last time she spoke publicly about her father was in May of 2021, when she wrote an open letter on her website about his 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 wrote.
👑 @NICKIMINAJ writes a letter to her fans, shares her thoughts on “The Crown,” speaks about the joys of motherhood (the “Best I Ever Had” reference!) and how she’s still processing the passing of her father 💖 #beammeupscotty #NICKIMINAJ pic.twitter.com/C7rhEw531w
— Victoria Hernandez (@LadyViii) May 14, 2021
Polevich’s lawyer, Marc Gann, has claimed that his client’s behavior during the day Maraj was killed was “completely out of character.”
“He does feel tremendous empathy for Mr. Maraj’s family and tremendous remorse for any role he played in his death,” he added in remarks made after Friday’s hearing.
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