New Haven Register
Federal judge rejects release for Milford psychiatrist who pleaded not guilty to narcotics charges
By Esteban L. Hernandez
December 1, 2015
A federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Ljudmil Kljusev, 51, last week, alleging possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute and five counts of money laundering. Kljusev, who has been in federal custody since his arrest Nov. 12, is the son of Nikola Kljusev, who was the first prime minister of Macedonia.
Kljusev was previously ruled a flight risk by Merriam due to his extensive financial assets and his connections abroad. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Karwan said Kljusev has citizenship in the United States, Canada and Macedonia, and his frequent travel is one of the reasons the government feels he’s a flight risk, though both Merriam and Karwan said they do not believe Kljusev poses a risk to the community.
While rejecting the conditions for a release submitted by Kljusev’s attorney, Hugh F. Keefe, Merriam is not completely dismissing the possibility of such a release. Merriam said she would most likely recommend GPS monitoring and not allow Kljusev to continue practicing psychiatry if released; Keefe had sought to allow his client to continue practicing psychiatry in his proposal.
Keefe said detention is “punishment before trial.”
“I think pre-trail detention is a program that should be used extremely sparingly,” Keefe said after the court appearance. “In federal court, they detain people. You can’t get out no matter what. People are presumed innocent; that’s not right.”
Merriam said the conditions outlined were not adequate enough to support a release. Keefe had suggested having Kljusev’s wife, Elizabeth, serve as a third-party custodian, which Merriam said was problematic because of the “inherent nature” of the relationship as well as Elizabeth Kljusev’s pattern of also frequently traveling abroad. Elizabeth Kljusev worked at her husband’s office during the alleged misconduct; she has not been arrested or charged in connection with her husband’s alleged crimes.
Other conditions include paying a $500,000 bond co-signed by Kljusev’s wife and their son, turning over the entire family’s passports and restricting travel to inside the state. Kljusev’s family was present at the hearing, including his wife and their three children.
Karwan said Kljusev has “deep connections overseas” and has bank accounts in Canada, Greece and Macedonia. According to the indictment, Kljusev deposited nearly $52,000 in a bank account during the first four months of the year, money the government alleges was acquired through illegal activity.
According to the indictment, Kljusev and an employee, Dusan Bosotov, allegedly sold Adderall and Xanax to patients who did not medically require the drugs. Bosotov is facing federal charges in New Jersey. Authorities also found $173,095 at Kljusev’s offices the day he was arrested on Nov. 12 and allege he laundered more than $120,000 between January and April, according to the indictment. The document did not specify the amount of narcotics Kljusev and Bosotov allegedly distributed.
Merriam added that another reason she rejected the condition is she worried about Kljusev’s ability to issue prescriptions if released; she said that while mandating that Kljusev could not issue prescriptions as part of a condition of release, Kljusev, a doctor, could potentially find himself in a medical dilemma that would necessitate he help patients in dire need instead of following court orders.
Keefe is hoping to secure his client’s release before Christmas, as he told Merriam that Kljusev is hoping to spend the holiday with his children, especially his youngest son. Before a decision on a conditional release is made, Merriam is seeking more specific information on Kljusev’s financial assets and his various real estate properties in the state.
Merriam set a jury selection date for Jan. 14, though Keefe said this most likely will be postponed to sometime in spring. If the case proceeds to trail, District Judge Alvin W. Thompson will preside over the case.
Karwan said that, if convicted, Kljusev faces up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines for the intent to distribute narcotics charge and up to 10 years for each money laundering charge.
Reporter Anna Bisaro contributed to this story. Reach Esteban L. Hernandez at 203-680-9901.