Ex-‘American Idol’ contestant gets nearly 4 years in prison

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FILE – 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, FILE)

NORFOLK, Va. (AP/NBC News) — Former ‘American Idol’ contestant Antonella Barba has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for carrying nearly 2 pounds (0.9 kilograms) of fentanyl.

Federal authorities in Virginia said Thursday that the 32-year-old New Jersey woman got three years and nine months in federal prison. She pleaded guilty in July to possessing with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be stronger and more lethal than heroin.

Barba appeared on reality television shows “American Idol” and “Fear Factor.” The investigation that led to her arrest began when police heard someone was going to deliver a large amount of fentanyl in the city of Norfolk.

Police staked out a stash house and arrested Barba. She had arrived from Los Angeles that day.

Her lawyers argued in the recent filing that Barba’s maximum sentence should be further reduced in part because she “led a life more typically characterized by her good works, her humility, and her devotion to her family and her faith” before her lack of success on “American Idol” derailed her life.

The filing said Barba was a “perfectionist” growing up, and a letter from her mother said she spent hours studying and practicing the violin, and devoted her spare time to volunteering. She attended a Catholic university, where she pursued an architecture degree, graduating on time, despite losing a semester while competing on “American Idol,” the lawyers’ filing said.

During her time on the show, though, “the world intruded and interrupted her … dream of a career in architecture,” and that is “where it all went wrong,” her mother wrote.

The mother said Barba’s “sudden move to Hollywood following ‘American Idol’ ‘was a recipe for disaster.'”

When she was unable to “achieve the results she wanted, it was devastating to her,” Barba’s lawyers said.

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