July 31, 2019
Former "American Idol" contestant Antonella Barba pleaded guilty in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, on Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to distribute the powerful opiate fentanyl.
Barba, 32, of Point Pleasant, Ocean County was arrested in October after police found a shoebox in the rental car she was driving that contained 830 grams of fentanyl, federal prosecutors said in a statement.
She now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and as much as $10 million in fines, including asset forfeiture. Barba will be sentenced at a hearing on Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.
Authorities said the singer was working as a drug courier for a drug ring when she was arrested on Oct. 11. An investigation into her alleged boss led investigators to Barba, who had been parked in a rental car with the shoebox of fentanyl on the floor in front of the car's passenger seat when police approached with a drug sniffing dog, prosecutors said.
Federal prosecutors previously said Barba was among several members of a drug ring that had been active in Virginia between late 2017 and 2018 and used an apartment in Norfolk to store heroin, cocaine and cash.
Barba emerged as a contender on "American Idol" in 2007, nailing her audition as she called Simon Cowell "not her best friend," only to be burned by him later on in Hollywood. She made it to the semi-finals that year, but just missed the show's top 12 that season. She was also a contestant on "Fear Factor" in 2008.