Lifestyle & Human Interest

Former 'American Idol' Star Sentenced to Prison for Drug Trafficking, Blames Show in Court


As a former “American Idol” star was facing drug trafficking charges, her attorney said she blamed the show for the downward spiral that led to her recent conviction.

Antonella Barba appeared on season six of “American Idol” at the age of 19 and was one of the top 16 contestants. She also appeared on “Fear Factor” in 2012.

While most contestants would be grateful for the opportunity to compete on “American Idol,” Barba’s lawyer wrote in court documents that her time on the singing competition “interrupted her dream of a career in architecture” and is “where it all went wrong,” citing a letter from Barba’s mother.

After her time on the popular show, which aired on FOX, Barba went back to school and earned her degree from the Catholic University of America, according to USA Today.

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She then moved to Hollywood to pursue her dreams of becoming an entertainer, which were only encouraged by her “Idol” success.

According to a friend, however, she quickly crumbled under the weight of her dreams.

“If her successes weren’t big enough by her standards, she overworked herself,” her friend K.J. wrote in a letter to the court. “Antonella drove herself relentlessly to accomplish her goal and then (fell) apart.”

In 2018, the aspiring entertainer was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, which provided a lot of answers for her family.

“To many, including her mother, these diagnoses were like finding the lost piece of a puzzle,” Barba’s attorney, James O. Broccoletti, wrote in a court filing.

Later that same year, in October 2018, the former contestant was arrested in Norfolk, Virginia, after authorities found nearly two pounds of fentanyl hidden in a shoe box in the front seat of her rental car, according to USA Today.

The now-32-year-old pleaded guilty in July 2019 and faced a sentence of anywhere from 57 to 71 months in federal prison.

Her attorney, however, fought to lower the time to around three years, claiming she only played a small role in a much bigger drug trafficking ring.

On Thursday, the court ultimately sentenced Barba to 45 months in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute.

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She was given the opportunity to lower her time in prison, however, through a 500-hour residential drug treatment program.

“She doesn’t have a drug problem per se,” one of Barba’s attorney’s, Randall Leeman, told USA Today. “But the program is more of a therapeutic program. I think the court wanted her to enter that program and to complete it to get the counseling benefit of it.”

The judge also ordered that she receive mental health treatment.

As he was delivering her sentence, the judge challenged Barba to uphold her religious beliefs, according to Leeman.

“I expect you to go out there and be a light,” Leeman recalled the judge telling Barba.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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