Bail rejected for Newcastle eye doctor who plotted partner’s death

February 28, 2011

By Jennifer Sullivan

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A King County judge on Feb. 23 denied a request by Dr. Michael Mockovak to be released from custody pending his sentencing for plotting to kill his former partner in the Clearly Lasik eye centers

NEW — 3:25 p.m. Feb. 28, 2011

The co-founder of the Clearly Lasik eye centers on Feb. 23 pleaded with a judge to deny bail for his former partner, Newcastle resident Dr. Michael Mockovak, who was convicted of targeting him in a murder-for-hire plot.

Dr. Joseph King read from an emotional three-page letter in which he urged King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson to keep Mockovak behind bars until he is sentenced on March 17.

Mockovak was ordered held in jail until his sentencing after he was convicted earlier this month of criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree theft and attempted first-degree theft.

Before he was convicted, Mockovak had been free on bail since shortly after his November 2009 arrest.

“When Michael Mockovak had everything to lose, he coldly planned my murder,” King said. “Now, as he faces a prison sentence, he has nothing to lose by soliciting or causing harm to others or fleeing.”

Defense attorney Jeffery Robinson said a friend of Mockovak’s was willing to post $2 million bail so he could attend doctor’s appointments, mental-health counseling and church before he is sentenced to prison for what could amount to a life sentence.

To King, however, no amount of money or promises could put his family or his employees at ease. King called Mockovak a “cunning and decisive person.” He said his former business partner and ex-brother-in-law is fluent in Spanish and could flee to South America, and he feared that Mockovak could fulfill his threats and kill him.

Robinson ultimately turned down Mockovak’s request.

Prosecutors said Mockovak offered to pay more than $100,000 to have King, a longtime friend, and former company President Brad Klock killed.

Mockovak believed King was planning to split the company and thought King was taking advantage of him, according to the charges. Mockovak reportedly was angry with Klock for suing the company after being fired, prosecutors said.

The Yale-educated Mockovak used to be married to King’s sister.

Prosecutors also claimed Clearly Lasik was in a slump at the time Mockovak hatched the murder-for-hire plot.

Mockovak solicited a Clearly Lasik employee, who had immigrated from Russia, to arrange the slayings, prosecutors said. Mockovak believed the employee could put him in touch with a hit man for the Russian mafia, prosecutors alleged.

But the employee reported Mockovak’s alleged scheme to the FBI, which hired him to work as a confidential informant, according to testimony during the two-week trial.

Jurors deliberated for nearly two days before convicting Mockovak of four charges. Jurors found him not guilty of a second count of criminal solicitation involving Klock.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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