COVINGTON, La. -- The operators of Metairie-based moving company Mr. Move had their day in court Monday.
Owner Dunwoodie McDuffie III and William Jeffery pleaded guilty to extortion and unauthorized use of a movable in exchange for five years probation, plus fines and fees.
"He did it because it was in his best interest. It was not an admission of guilt," said McDuffie’s attorney Claude Kelly.
The case, which has been the subject of a series of Eyewitness News reports since June, stemmed from an incident where a Mandeville woman claimed the company quoted her one price, then held her property hostage, after demanding a much higher price midway through her move.
After our exclusive report on the raid of the company and arrests that followed the victim's claim, many more people came forward with similar stories about their experiences with Mr. Move.
The victim said she is unhappy with the outcome, but Mandeville police, who took on the case, said in a statement, "We are grateful to the district attorney and court for handling this as a criminal matter and not civil."
McDuffie's attorney said his client is sorry for the dispute.
"If you stacked up every complaint out of the tens of thousands of moves he's made, it's a minute percentage,” said Kelly, “You only survive in that business if you do good, reputable work and he has survived for decades in that business, and thrived."
A third defendant, Amanda Neil, the office manager, has a new court date for next month, but it is expected that she will be allowed into the court's diversion program. That allows first time, non-violent offenders the opportunity to be rehabilitated as opposed to convicted.
McDuffie has citations pending with the Public Service Commission regarding this case and another. Hearings for those citations are expected to move forward, now that the criminal case is over.