A 32-year-old singer and former reality television star has been sentenced to 45 months in a federal prison for possessing fentanyl and possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute. The sentence was announced on Nov. 21 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Antonella Barba is best known for being among the final 16 contestants on the hit talent show ‘American Idol.” The New Jersey resident admitted in July to possessing 400 or more grams of the opioid.
Barba was taken into custody in October 2018 following a traffic stop in Norfolk. Police searched her rental car and discovered a bag containing an unidentified white powder in a shoe box on the floor of the vehicle. Officers decided to search the car after a K9 unit alerted to the presence of drugs during an air sniff. Subsequent forensic analysis determined that the white powder was about 831 grams of the Schedule II controlled substance fentanyl.
Police say that they stopped the woman’s car after listening in on a telephone call made by a man suspected of distributing significant quantities of heroin and cocaine. The man allegedly said during the call that he was sending a woman from a Norfolk apartment to deliver a package of drugs.
When police reports contain details like these, experienced criminal defense attorneys may study the transcript of the intercepted telephone call to see if it contained a description of the car and ascertain whether the drug-sniffing dog was present when the traffic stop was initiated. While a police dog’s alert provides police with probable cause to conduct a search, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that traffic stops cannot be delayed for an unreasonable amount of time in order for K9 units to be called to the scene.