MINEOLA, N.Y. – A 70-year-old man arrested Wednesday in the hit-and-run death of rapper Nicki Minaj’s father stopped briefly to ask the injured man if he was OK but didn't call for help, police said.
Charles Polevich faces charges of leaving the scene of an incident and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the death last week of 64-year-old Robert Maraj on New York's Long Island.
Polevich, who splits time between Long Island and Guam, where he runs an environmental consulting business, is free on bail following an arraignment in Nassau County court. As a result of his arrest, his driver’s license has been suspended, he was ordered to surrender his passport and a judge said he can't leave the state.
“He was absolutely aware of what happened,” Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said at a news conference.
“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,” Fitzpatrick said. “He went home and secluded the vehicle. He’s well aware of what he did.”
Polevich's lawyer, Michael Scotto, described what happened as a tragic accident and said their thoughts were with Maraj's family.
Maraj was struck by a car at 6:15 p.m. Friday while walking along Roslyn Road in Mineola. He was taken to a hospital and was pronounced dead on Saturday.
Polevich exited his car after hitting Maraj, stood over him and asked if he was OK before walking back to his car and fleeing the scene, police said. Polevich went home and parked his car in a detached garage in an attempt to conceal it from view, police said.
Polevich surrendered Wednesday after detectives used pieces of surveillance video to track the car involved in the crash — a white, 1992 Volvo station wagon — to Polevich's Mineola home, Fitzpatrick said.
Minaj, 38, was born Onika Tanya Maraj in Trinidad and was raised in the New York City borough of Queens. She has not made any public statement about her father’s death.
Minaj’s mother, Carol Maraj, told Newsday that the family was relieved a suspect was being charged in his death.
“I’m very, very, very happy about the arrest,” Carol Maraj said.
Minaj has spoken in the past about having a strained relationship with her father.
In interviews, she said Robert Maraj suffered from drug addiction and was abusive toward her mother, once setting fire to their house with her inside.
Minaj referenced her father in the 2008 song, “Autobiography," rapping: “They shoulda thrown the book at you, ’cause I hate you so much that it burn when I look at you."
Robert Maraj called his daughter's claims “exaggerated.”