Former “American Idol” contestant was part of large scale drug ring, busted with 2 lbs of fentanyl and other drugs

Scott Daugherty
The Virginian-Pilot

A former “American Idol” and “Fear Factor” contestant was working as a courier for a large scale drug ring last year when she was arrested in Norfolk, according to a court document unsealed Monday.

Antonella Barba, 32, was trying to deliver almost two pounds of fentanyl, the document said.

Originally charged in Norfolk General District Court, Barba now faces a federal indictment charging her with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.

Barba had been out on bond while awaiting trial in state court, but was taken back into custody Monday on the federal indictment. A detention hearing is set for Thursday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Suzanne Katchmar, Barba’s attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the indictment, Barba — who has a felony marijuana case pending in Kansas — 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. Many of her co-defendants are not in federal custody and large sections of the indictment remain redacted.

In addition to Barba, the indictment names Justin Michael Isaac and Rawl Christopher Stennett, a man court documents link to three social security numbers and three dates of birth.

The indictment indicates an unnamed member of the conspiracy used an apartment on Granby Street in September 2017 to store cocaine, heroin and cash. It also outlines several small drug sales over the next year in Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

In September 2018, Isaac gave about 1 kilogram of heroin and about 4 kilograms of cocaine to an unnamed conspirator for further distribution, the indictment said. Later that month, Stennett delivered about 7 kilograms of cocaine to a conspirator.

Norfolk police arrested Barba around 11:30 a.m. Oct. 11, 2017, in the 500 block of Duke Street, according to a department spokesman. The indictment said Isaac directed her that day to deliver about 830 grams of fentanyl to a conspirator.

Barba is best known for making it just shy of the top 12 round on “American Idol” in 2007, according to Entertainment Tonight. The website also said she made headlines around that time for posing in a wet T-shirt at the World War II memorial in Washington.

Her other TV and film credits include “Fear Factor” and the 2017 movie “All About the Money.” Comedian Jimmy Kimmel brought Barba on his show last year for a “Where Are They Now?” segment alongside other “Idol” contestants.


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