Surgeon pleads not guilty in murder-for-hire

Surgeon pleads not guilty in murder-for-hire
SEATTLE -- A Newcastle eye surgeon accused of trying to have two business partners killed pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.

Dr. Michael Mockovak has been charged with two counts of first-degree solicitation to commit murder.

FBI agents said Mockovak was willing to pay more than $100,000 and even hired the Russian mafia to carry out the job.

One of the alleged targets is Mockovak's former brother-in-law, Dr. Joesph King, with whom he co-founded Clearly Lasik in Renton.

When profits sank last year, the doctors fired several employees, prompting former company president Brad Klock to file a complaint in court.

Mockovak responded by asking a Russian-born employee for mafia connections because he wanted Klock "eliminated," according to court documents.

Mockovak also wanted King killed, the documents said, as King had taken out a $5 million insurance policy. He said he wanted King's death to look like an accident, and suggested drowning as a method, the documents said.

Agents arrested Mockovak last week without incident at the YMCA in Newcastle.

In court, King said his family is terrified of Mockovak.

"I am tremendously concerned that if he is released he will come to finish the job," King said.

King's wife was visibly shaken and says she has been since the FBI told her about the plot last Sunday. Their family has been staying in a hotel ever since.

"As long as he is in jail, we feel safe," King said. "If he is not, then we do not.... If he's out, we're very afraid."

Mockovak pleaded not guilty and his attorney asked for reduced bail.

"If he was going to flee, your honor, I suggest he would have taken that opportunity," said Colette Tvedt, Mockovak's attorney.

But the prosecution objected, arguing the eye surgeon posted $1 million bail Friday, then tried to tap into Canadian bank accounts over the weekend.

And prosecutors said if it weren't for an FBI informant, King would be dead today.

The judge reset bail at $2 million with strict stipulations. The court said Mockovak can't come within 1/2 mile of King, and they live in the same neighborhood -- right down the street. So Mockovak can't even go back to his home. He is also prohibited from going near Clearly Lasik offices or talk to company employees.

Tvedt says his client doesn't have the money to make bail, but his family is trying to find it. That means the Kings will stay in a hotel a while longer.

We're told King was back at work Wednesday.