Antonella Barba, a singer who made it to the top 16 on the sixth season of American Idol in 2007, faces a minimum of 10 years behind prison bars following her courtroom admission Tuesday she tried delivering nearly two pounds of fentanyl to a stash house in Virginia back in October.
Federal prosecutors say a judge could decide to send Barba, 32, to prison for life at her sentencing hearing in late November, but noted in a statement that “actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.”
Barba pleaded guilty to 10 separate counts of possession Tuesday — nine months after her initial arrest.
The plea deal comes four months after Barba was indicted on 11 federal charges, including one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine, heroin and fentanyl with the intent to distribute and 10 counts of distribution or possession of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl with the intent to distribute.
Barba, also a former Fear Factor contestant, was busted last October with the fentanyl, which she was delivering to her boss in Norfolk.
The New Jersey native — now living in Los Angeles — could not be reached for comment. She has been living at her parents’ home since the indictment.
Barba was initially arrested in Norfolk last October for allegedly selling or intending to sell 100 grams or more of heroin. She pleaded not guilty to that charge.
According to the statement from federal prosecutors, Barba was sitting in a parked rental car “when she was approached by law enforcement” acting on a tip.
“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.”
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Barba was an American Idol hopeful in the same season that saw Jordin Sparks crowned the eventual winner.
After Idol, Barba returned to college and earned her architecture degree. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly in 2009, she said she was working on a forthcoming album.
She said then: “I know the buzz might not be the same as it was in 2007, but it amazes me — almost two years later, I still get recognized!”
In 2012, she appeared on an episode of Fear Factor. She, along with many other former Idol stars, also participated in a “We Are the World” parody on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in May of last year.