Former American Idol contestant Antonella Barba pleaded guilty to drug possession with intent to distribute in court this week and faces a minimum of 10 years in prison, The Wrap reports. The maximum she could be sentenced to is a life sentence and $10 million in fines.
Barba, who appeared on the sixth season of American Idol in 2007, was arrested in Virginia in October 2018 after police began investigating a man they believed to bet he source of drugs in the area. She was found sitting in a parked rental car when police found her on a tip, with nearly two pounds fentanyl in her possession. She was charged with a felony charge of distributing.
According to a statement from prosecutors: "A dog handler screened Barba’s rental vehicle with a drug dog, which alerted on the vehicle. The canine officer searched Barba’s rental vehicle and discovered a closed shoebox in plain view on the front passenger floorboard."
The statement adds: "The officer opened the shoebox and discovered a plastic bag containing a large quantity of a white, rock-like substance. Barba subsequently admitted she had landed at Washington-Dulles at around 4:00 p.m. on a flight from Los Angeles, and that she rented a car there and drove to Norfolk. The substance seized from Barba’s rental car was submitted to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Savannah Laboratory for forensic analysis, where a forensic scientist determined the substance to be fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance, with a total weight of 830.9 grams."
The Virginian-Pilot reported after her arrest that she was carrying enough fentanyl to kill 415,000 people, based on statistics from the Drug Enforcement Administration. An indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia says that from at least late 2017 through the fall of 2018, Barba was working as a courier for a drug ring that also trafficked heroin and cocaine.
She was released from jail two weeks after her October arrest on $50,000 bond, and taken into custody again in February 2019, when she was charged with one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and one count of conspiracy. Her state drug-dealing charges were dropped.
Another alleged drug ring member who was charged in the matter, Justin Michael Isaac, allegedly directed Barba to drop off about 830 grams, or close to two pounds, of fentanyl in Norfolk, according to the indictment.
Barba reached the top 16 on Idol during its initial run on Fox before she was eliminated. She competed on an episode of Fear Factor, and also appeared in 2018 on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live for a segment featuring Idol alumni titled "Where Are They Now?"
In June, it was reported that Barba was seeking approval from a judge to attend a friend's wedding while still awaiting trial. The Blast reported at the time that Barba asked the judge in her case if she could attend the childhood friend's wedding in Brooklyn in July. Prosecutors reportedly did not object to the idea.