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David Novak left Utah shortly after the man who agreed to finance his $1.9-million documentary about life in federal prison was shot to death in the parking lot of a Sandy Village Inn.
Now the wife of murder victim Kenneth Dolezsar claims it was Novak who masterminded her husband's slaying.
In a lawsuit filed in 3rd District Court earlier this month, Leslie Dee Mower claims Novak paid Eugene Christopher Wright $25,000 to kill Dolezsar.
A jury in April convicted Wright, 35, of first-degree felony murder for fatally shooting Dolezsar, 50, on the morning of Nov. 15, 2007. A judge ordered him to serve 15 years to life in prison.
Novak, an ex-con turned consultant for white-collar criminals, had touted his services to Kenneth Dolezsar for months leading up to Dolezsar's murder, according to the lawsuit.
Novak promised Dolezsar, a hockey coach at Utah Valley State College, he could obtain a commutation of Dolezsar's wife's 27-month prison sentence for tax fraud in exchange for $1.9 million money that Novak planned to used in part to finance a documentary called "Downtime," the lawsuit states. The film was to be a guide for people headed to prison camp.
Dolezsar paid the money, anxious to see his wife get out of prison, according to the complaint. But Mower claims Novak paid Wright to shoot Dolezsar after Novak failed to make good on the promises he had made.
Mower is seeking at least $18 million from Novak and his consulting firm in her lawsuit, claiming wrongful death, conspiracy, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud and the loss of her husband's companionship. She also wants money for his medical and funeral expenses and lost earnings.
Mower claims that Novak, 48, also tricked her late husband into believing he could provide "protection" for her in prison, and promised the couple earnings from the documentary.
The film was to be based on a book Novak wrote based on his experiences at a Florida federal prison camp, where he served one year following a 1996 conviction for mail fraud and sending false distress signals. Novak faked his own death in a plane crash, according to Sandy police.
Claims in Mower's lawsuit that Novak is responsible for Dolezsar's death match assertions made by Wright's defense attorneys earlier this year.
Wright maintained his innocence throughout his two-week trial and sentencing. His attorneys claimed Novak had a motive to kill Dolezsar that police never fully investigated: the money Novak owed Dolezsar for the film.
Wright was counting on Dolezsar to provide him with $2 million to invest in a Park City land development and wouldn't have killed off his prime investor, defense attorney Ed Brass said at trial. But Novak needed to get rid of Dolezsar so he wouldn't need to pay him the money he owed, Brass claimed.
Sandy police Sgt. Troy Arnold on Monday declined to comment on whether the department is seeking to locate and question Novak in the wake of Mower's lawsuit.
Novak sold his Salt Lake City assets and left Utah after Wright was arrested in February 2008 for Dolezsar's slaying.
Mower has said she believes Novak was the person her husband was going to meet at the Village Inn restaurant on the morning he was gunned down in the parking lot.
Attempts to reach Novak for comment were unsuccessful Monday.
Claims of innocence
Friends of Eugene Christopher Wright claim he was framed and have formed the Justice Support Foundation to prove his innocence.
Part of the group's efforts include pressuring the Sandy Police Department to see if others including Novak were behind Dolezsar's death.
Wright is also appealing his conviction. The trial
In April, a West Jordan jury found Eugene Christopher Wright guilty of murdering Kenneth Dolezsar after prosecutors presented evidence including:
An eyewitness to the Nov. 15, 2007, shooting.
A prepaid cell phone purchased by Wright and used to set up the Sandy meeting that resulted in Dolezsar's death.
A message left on the victim's cell phone that was identified by two witnesses as Wright's voice.
DNA evidence matched to Wright that was found inside on the driver's side door of Dolezsar's SUV, which was stolen by the shooter then abandoned.
A test-fired shell casing found at Wright's Salt Lake City home, which was fired from the same 9 mm pistol as five shell casings found at the murder scene.
Wright had explanations for much of the evidence. He said he bought the phone at Dolezsar's request and gave it to Dolezsar. His DNA was in the SUV because he had ridden in it during a meeting with Dolezsar. He said his pistol was lost or stolen a month before Dolezsar was killed. Wright's wife claimed he was home sick with her the morning Dolezsar was killed.
Wright's attorneys claimed throughout the trial that Sandy police failed to thoroughly investigate Novak as a suspect by failing to test DNA found in Dolezsar's SUV to see if the material was linked to Novak.