Co-founder of Clearly Lasik eye surgery found guilty of plotting to kill partner

The co-founder of Clearly Lasik laser eye surgery clinics, which has an outlet in Saanich, was found guilty Thursday of plotting to kill his business partner. A Seattle jury convicted Edmonton-born eye surgeon Michael Mockovak of one count of criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree theft and attempted first-degree theft.

The Times Colonist
February 3, 2011

Co-founder of Clearly Lasik eye surgery found guilty of plotting to kill partner
Jennifer Sullivan, Seattle Times

Michael_Mockovak_Clearly_Lasik.jpg

Dr. Michael Mockovak (left) is accused of plotting to kill his Clearly Lasik co-founder and his former brother-in-law Dr. Joseph King (right). Photograph by: Clearly Lasik website, .

Seattle, Wash. — The co-founder of Clearly Lasik laser eye surgery clinics, which has an outlet in Saanich, was found guilty Thursday of plotting to kill his business partner.

A Seattle jury convicted Edmonton-born eye surgeon Michael Mockovak of one count of criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree theft and attempted first-degree theft. Jurors found him not guilty of a second count of criminal solicitation involving the company's former president.

The jury deliberated for less than two days.

After the verdict was read, Mockovak, who has been out on bail since shortly after his arrest in November 2009, was taken into custody. He is to be sentenced March 17.

Mockovak's former partner and target of the murder-for-hire plot, eye surgeon Joseph King, issued a statement: "My colleagues, my family and I are relieved to put this sad episode behind us."

King performs eye surgeries at the Saanich clinic, but Mockovak wasn't licensed to practise in Canada.

King graduated from the University of B.C.'s faculty of medicine in 1992. He completed a postgraduate medical and surgical internship in Victoria, according to Clearly Lasik's website.

Prosecutors said Mockovak was willing to pay more than $100,000 to have King and former company president Brad Klock killed.

Klock was born in Port Alberni and is a former professional hockey player who was hired in 2004 to run the Seattle-based company. He left Clearly Lasik in 2007.

According to the charges, Mockovak believed King was "greedy" because of his apparent plans to split the company, and thought his partner was taking advantage of him. Mockovak was apparently angry with Klock for suing the company after he was fired, prosecutors said.

They also said Clearly Lasik was in a slump. The company reported earnings of $17 million in 2007 but $10 million in 2008, charging papers said.

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

On Nov. 7, 2009, Mockovak met Kultin, paid him $10,000 cash and gave him a photo of King, charging papers said. Mockovak was arrested five days later.

Kultin reported Mockovak to the FBI, and the agency hired him to be an informant, the trial heard.

Mockovak's lawyers contended he never intended to hire an assassin, calling his efforts an "immature joke."

Defence lawyer Colette Tvedt said Mockovak was "induced" and "persuaded" into the plan by Kultin.

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