Former 'American Idol' star Antonella Barba pleads guilty, faces 10 years to life

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Antonella Barba, a Point Pleasant native who sang on
Antonella Barba, a Point Pleasant native who sang on

NORFOLK, Virginia – Antonella Barba, formerly of "American Idol" and "Fear Factor" fame, likely will spend at least a decade behind bars after pleading guilty to possession of at least 400 grams of fentanyl with intent to distribute in federal court in Virginia on Tuesday.

The guilty plea carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court. She could face a possible life sentence and up to $10 million in fines, as well as asset forfeiture, according to the agreement.

The 32-year-old singer, who grew up on the Jersey Shore, was first arrested on Duke Street in Norfolk in October 2018. She originally was charged with selling or intending to sell 100 grams or more of heroin, according to Virginia court records. She denied the initial charges.

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Those state charges were later supplanted by federal charges of possession with intent and conspiracy, according to court records.

According to a statement of facts filed in connection with the plea agreement, investigators had been tracking Justin Michael "Cali" Isaac of California, believing he "was a source for kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin."

Antonella Barba in Point Pleasant Beach.
Antonella Barba in Point Pleasant Beach.

On Oct. 11, 2018, they determined he was heading to a "stash" apartment in Norfolk from Washington, D.C., but then listened in on a phone call in which Isaac said he was sending a woman to deliver drugs, according to the statement.

Investigators staking out the apartment found Barba there in a car, a shoebox of fentanyl on the floor, according to the statement.

Isaac and several other defendants also were named in the same federal indictment as Barba.

Antonella Barba on
Antonella Barba on

Barba was one of the top 16 contestants on the singing competition's sixth season in 2007 before she was eliminated. She also appeared on "Fear Factor" in 2012.

Barba had been confined to a family home in Point Pleasant under court order. It was unclear if she remains there or had been taken into custody following her plea.

Barba's attorney, James Broccoletti, declined to comment.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: American Idol Antonella Barba pleads guilty, faces 10 years to life