A laser eye surgeon in the United States has pleaded not guilty to an alleged murder-for-hire targeting two colleagues with Canadian roots.

Dr. Michael Mockovak also had his bail lowered from $3 million to $2 million, a court spokesman said yesterday.

Mockovak, 51, is accused of paying $10,000 to an informant for the murder of his business partner, Dr. Joseph King. The pair founded Clearly Lasik laser surgery clinics in Washington, Oregon, Alberta and British Columbia.

Prosecutors allege Mockovak also targeted Brad Klock, a former hockey player from Port Alberni, B.C., who had sued the company after being dismissed from his job as president.

King, who was trained in British Columbia and practises at the Canadian clinics, is frightened for his life and worried about his family’s safety, his lawyer said by email after yesterday’s bail hearing.

“We had requested substantially higher bail,” said Anne Bremner.