Ex 'American Idol' contestant faces federal drug charges

Ex 'American Idol' contestant faces federal drug charges

A former American Idol contestant is facing federal charges after allegedly working as a courier for a drug ring last year.

Antonella Barba, a fan favourite on the sixth season of the TV series, has been named in a new indictment charging her with conspiracy to distribute nearly two pounds of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, as well as cocaine and heroin.

The 32-year-old was indicted last week on 11 federal charges while out on bond, after being arrested in downtown Norfolk, Virginia in 2018.

Antonella Barba Credit: Norfolk Sheriff's Office

On October 11, she was charged in a local court with one count of possession of more than 100 grams of heroin with intent to distribute it.

She was out on bond awaiting trial when she was taken back into custody on a federal indictment unsealed Monday. The Virginian-Pilot reports that the former reality TV star was one of several members of a drug conspiracy that was active in Hampton Roads from at least late 2017 through the fall of 2018.

Large parts remain censored but the published portion also reportedly names Justin Michael Isaac and Rawl Christopher Stennett, a man whom court documents tie to three Social Security numbers and three dates of birth.

According to the indictment, an unnamed cohort used an apartment on Granby Street in September 2017 to stash cocaine, heroin and money. It also outlines several small drug sales in Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Barba, who is reported to also have a felony marijuana case pending in Kansas, has a detention hearing set for Thursday in US District Court in Norfolk.

The 32-year-old is best known for reaching the top 16 on American Idol in 2007, the year Jordin Sparks won.

While participating on the show, she came under media scrutiny when an anonymous source leaked semi-nude photos of her online.

The singer claimed the photos had been stolen from her personal computer, and stated that they were "very personal and that is not how I intended to portray myself nor do I intend to portray myself that way in the future".

She added that she had already informed producers about the images prior to the leak and they had attempted to protect her from the backlash.

NEW YORK - MAY 19: Singer Antonella Barba poses on the red carpet at the Cherry Lane Music Publishing's 50th Anniversary celebration at Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn on May 19, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images) Credit: Getty

The situation was controversially compared to that of season two contestant Frenchie Davis, who had been disqualified due to topless photos in 2003, with many people claiming that the difference in response stemmed from racism and weightism.

Producers insisted that the two women had been treated differently because Davis had been paid for her photos and Barba had not.

The drug charges aren't the first run-in Barba has had with law enforcement. In 2011, she was arrested in New York City for allegedly shoplifting in an Urban Outfitters. Authorities reportedly charged the New Jersey native with two misdemeanours, and ordered her to serve one day of community service.