Newcastle eye surgeon pleads not guilty in murder plot

November 18, 2009

By Tim Pfarr

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UPDATED — 5:19 p.m. Nov. 18, 2009

Michael Mockovak, 51, of Newcastle, was charged Monday with two counts of criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder. Today, he pleaded not guilty to both counts.

King County prosecutors said in charging papers that Mockovak, a surgeon for Clearly Lasik, sought to have his business partner, Joseph King, and former Clearly Lasik President Brad Klock killed.

Mockovak is being held on $2 million bail, and he is prohibited from contacting King and his family, as well as Klock and his family. Mockovak was also forced to surrender his passport.

If Mockovak is convicted as charged, he will face 30 to 40 years in prison. He will return to court Dec. 16 for a case setting hearing to schedule a trial date.

Mockovak and King co-founded Clearly Lasik, and the duo fired Klock in early 2007. Klock subsequently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Clearly Lasik.

Mockovak approached Daniel Kultin — a Russian emigrant and the company’s director of information technologies — and asked if Kultin had any mafia connections who could “take care of” Klock, according to the charging papers. King was not aware Mockovak sought to have Klock killed.

Kultin thought Mockovak was joking when Mockovak first approached him, but Mockovak approached him again and told him that Klock could be “eliminated” during Klock’s upcoming trip to Germany, the charging papers said.

Kultin disclosed the information to a family member who has FBI contacts, and Kultin began working as an FBI informant. FBI agents told Kultin to tell Mockovak that Kultin did in fact have mafia connections in Los Angeles willing to kill for money. With this cover, the FBI essentially set up a sting operation to catch Mockovak in the act, according to the charging papers.

Mockovak was told it would cost $20,000 to have Klock killed, and that he would need to pay half before the killing and half after. The plan was to have Klock’s killing look like “a carjacking gone bad,” the charging papers said.

Mockovak later told Kultin he was also upset with King and that he would like him killed as well, prosecutors said in the documents. Mockovak referred to King as “a greedy snake.” Plans then shifted to kill King first, as Mockovak had purchased a $4 million life insurance policy insuring King but listing himself as the policy owner and sole beneficiary, the charging papers said.

Mockovak was told it would cost $25,000 to have King killed, and that he would need to pay $10,000 before the murder and $15,000 after. The plan was to have King killed during King’s family trip to Australia. King would likely jog on the beach during his trip, and the plan was to kill him during a jog by drowning him in the water, according to the charging papers.

Mockovak met with Kultin Nov. 7 and finalized the fictional hit on King. Mockovak gave Kultin $10,000 in cash, a hand-written sticky note containing King’s travel information and a picture of King’s family, taken from one of Clearly Lasik’s offices, the charging documents said. Mockovak told Kultin he would pay him $100,000 for his role in King’s slaying. The money was to come from King’s life insurance.

Members of the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force arrested Mockovak at the Coal Creek YMCA Nov. 12.

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