Entertainment

Former “American Idol” Contestant Blames the Reality Show For Her Problem with Drugs and the Law

There’s no doubt that “American Idol” is a cultural phenomenon. During its 17 season run, the talent competition has brought us some of the biggest names in the music and entertainment industry. Not only did it reinvigorate Paula Abdul’s career, it also brought JLo back to our TV screens. That’s just the judges; the reality competition also began major careers. Without “Idol” we may not have ever heard of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood or Jennifer Hudson. While these former “Idol” alums wouldn’t trade the TV show experience for the world, not all of the former contestants have warm feelings about their time on the reality series.

Recently, former “American Idol” contestant Antonella Barba had a major run in with the law and is now her time on the show is being blamed for her illegal actions.

Twitter / @USATODAY

Back in 2007, Barba appeared on the reality television competition. The aspiring singer made it all the way to the Top 16 before she was sent home, however; the Latina did kick up some controversy during her time on “Idol.” For instance, the aspiring singer was photographed posing in a wet t-shirt at the fountain of a World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. This and other racy photographs of her that were leaked online around the time she was on “Idol.”

Though she tried to stay in the entertainment industry after “Idol,” the aspiring singer never made it big. The American public didn’t hear from Barba again until she appeared in the 2012 season of Fear Factor. Her problems with the law started soon after. In 2011, Barda was first arrested for shop-lifting in New York City and sentenced to do community service. In August of last year, the Latina was arrested on major drug charges. She has since pleaded guilty on possession and distribution of fentanyl a highly addictive opioid that is deadly if abused as a recreational drug.

Court documents released ahead of her sentencing (scheduled for tomorrow) reveal that her time on the show is being b lamed for the downward spiral Barda’s life has since taken.

 Twitter / @mjsbigblog

Shared by celebrity gossip site, The Blast, the documents explain that the former singer sees herself as a “resilient, deeply religious, selfless and driven person…someone who could rightfully be called a perfectionist.” However, Barba’s mother saw that being on the television show only brought “a detrimental change” to her daughter’s life.

The documents go on to suggest that, before “American Idol,” Barda’s dream was to be an architect. According to her mother, this dream was disrupted thanks to appearing on the reality show. The former singer suddenly dropped everything in order to move to Hollywood to pursue her new dream of stardom. However, according the the documents, it “was a recipe for disaster.” The papers go on to explain that losing the competition was a huge setback for Barda. As the court documents suggest, when the former star was unable to “achieve the results she wanted, it was devastating to her.”

The court documents being released now come after her most recent legal issue.

Twitter / @HeavySan

This most recent arrest comes from 2018 when she was found with a package of pills in her car. That arrest led to bigger trouble when she was accused by prosecutors of being a courier for a drug ring. According to the charges, Barda was one of eight members of the illegal operation that was operated out of Virginia during late 2017 and early 2018.

Barba was able to reach a plea deal for lesser time following this arrest but her attorney is now asking for an even more reduced sentence.

Twitter / @_ShattaBandle

The plea deal she got would still see Barba sentenced to 10 years in jail for her crimes. However, her lawyer is now arguing that the former singer was kept in the dark about the crime ring as a minor player. Besides being unaware that she was working with a drug ring, the former “American Idol” contest’s lawyer argues that she didn’t even know what was in the package she was carrying.

“The extent of Ms. Barba’s involvement in this case is limited to delivering one shipment of drugs and that single instance forms the sum total of her relevant conduct,” the newly released court documents argue. “Ms. Barba also did not participate in any of the planning or organization nor did she exercise any decision making authority. Ms. Barba was told where to go, when to go, and what to do when she got there.”

The court documents go on to explain that the Latina did not profit knowingly from any drugs.

“She did not break down the contents of the package into smaller amounts for resale and she did not collect any proceeds. She had no pecuniary interest in the package and did not stand to benefit in any way by the sale of the narcotics. Ms. Barba was paid only to deliver the package.”

El Paso Man Charged With Murdering His Date Whose Body Is Still Missing

Things That Matter

El Paso Man Charged With Murdering His Date Whose Body Is Still Missing

El Paso Police Department

The family of a woman who had been declared missing since July has finally found tragic answers after El Paso police charged Ricardo Marquez, 28, with her murder. Erika Andrea Gaytan, 29, was reported missing by her family on July 16, who felt it was out-of-character for Gaytan to disappear and leave her 7-year-old son behind. Gaytan reportedly was last heard from after going to a concert at the El Paso County Coliseum on July 13 with Ricardo Marquez. Gaytan recorded the concert, featuring Los Rieleros del Norte, Polo Urias and La Maquinaria Norteña, from her social media last night, marking the last time anyone heard from her. Detectives say that the day after Gaytan’s disappearance, Marquez borrowed his brother’s car and his sister’s shovel. Gaytan’s blood was found in Marquez’s Jeep. In a statement released Wednesday, Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said that Gaytan’s “body has not been found, but based on forensic and other evidence gathered over the course of the investigation detectives have reason to believe that she is deceased and was the victim of a murder.”

Police believe Marquez used zip-ties to restrain Gaytan in his home, where he murdered her.

CREDIT: EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

Marquez was brought in for questioning following Gaytan’s disappearance, where he told detectives that she came home with him, but used a ride-hailing app to leave after they got into a verbal argument. Detectives found no evidence that Gaytan used her ride-hailing apps, discrediting Marquez’s statement. According to a court affidavit, Marquez continued to give conflicting statements about his experience with Gaytan, and his whereabouts the following day, when speaking with law enforcement and family and friends alike. 

Marquez allegedly spent the next day covering up his crime.

CREDIT: @JALAKFOX_CBS / TWITTER

Investigators then looked into Marquez’s phone records, which showed that he had texted his brother and sister the next morning. He asked his brother if he could borrow his all-wheel-drive Jeep Wrangler, and picked up a shovel from his sister. Surveillance video evidence creates a timeline for Marquez’s alleged cover-up. He borrowed a shovel from his sister around 11:25 a.m. the following morning, and then went to his brother’s house to pick up the Jeep. He spent about an hour with his brother before being spotted on the 13900 block of Montana in east El Paso, driving toward the Redlands desert area. An hour later, the Jeep was spotted again, driving back to his brother’s house around 1:39 p.m., according to the affidavit that was issued for his arrest. With a search warrant in hand, a Department of Public Safety DNA lab-tested Marquez’s brother’s Jeep trunk floor mat, which came back positive for traces of Gaytan’s blood. Police believe Marquez transported Gaytan’s body in the trunk of his brother’s car, and buried her in an unknown area in the desert.

Court documents cite that a search of Marquez’s home produced the shovel he borrowed from his sister, a pair of shoes filled with sand, and zip-ties “tied in a manner to be used as restraints.” Detectives have concluded that “Ricardo Marquez murdered the victim in his residence, used the Jeep to transport the body of the victim to an unknown location only accessible by off-road vehicles, and that he used the shovel to bury the body.”

The El Paso community is shocked to hear of Gaytan’s murder.

CREDIT: EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

“Too many tragedies as of late,” commented Melissa Arredondo on the El Paso Police Department’s Facebook announcement of the arrest. “Dang… And the report says he buried her near Redlands. That place is so cursed. My friend’s dad just died there. It will never be the same,” commented another member of the community. Others remain hopeful in demanding that the police find Gaytan’s body before assuming her death. “Too many questions remain,” commented another concerned El Paso citizen.

Gaytan was facing a court hearing for criminal mischief when she disappeared, but her family couldn’t believe that she would leave her son behind without warning. Gaytan once appeared on El Paso’s Most Wanted List in 2017 before she was charged 66 charges of credit abuse in a criminal mischief case.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and detectives are relying on the public for more information. If you have information on the case or Ricardo Marquez, call (915) 212-4040 or Crime Stoppers of El Paso at (915) 566-8477.

READ: California Man Arrested With Drugs And Guns While Keeping A Person Hostage And Suspected Of Murder

Authorities Have Identified Gabriel Romero As The Person Who Killed Two People In The Pearl Harbor Shooting

Things That Matter

Authorities Have Identified Gabriel Romero As The Person Who Killed Two People In The Pearl Harbor Shooting

jm_photolens / Instagram

All mass shootings are travesties. Whether they occur in a public place or a school, they always instill fear, sadness, and numbness mainly because they happen so often. When a shooting occurs on a military camp, it is just as daunting and debilitating because servicemen and servicewomen are there to protect and serve. Yet we also know they too suffer from an array of mental health issues simply because of their profession. The shooting at Pearl Harbor is another example of the gun violence crisis gripping this nation.

Officials have identified the U.S. sailor who killed two people and himself as 22-year-old Gabriel Romero. 

On Dec. 4 at around 2:30 p.m., authorities say that Romero began shooting at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii. He shot three Department of Defense workers at the Dry Dock 2 on the base, the New York Post reports. Two of the victims, both males, were declared dead later at the hospital. 

One witness said he saw the shooter and assumed he was a sailor “because he was in a sailor uniform.” He also reports, according to the New York Post, that he recognized the sound as gunfire and also witnessed the shooter shoot himself.  The third victim is currently recovering at a local hospital. 

While all the victims were working on the base, they are considered civilians, not military.

Credit: @nypost / Twitter

“These victims are not only dedicated [International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers] IFPTE union members, they are hard-working public servants who go to work each day to serve the taxpayers and our military forces. They are reflective of the thousands of workers at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere that go to work to earn a living and serve their nation,” the organization said, according to the Star Advertiser. “No worker should have to go to work without the expectation of safely returning to their family and loved ones.” One of the victims has been identified as 32-year-old Vincent Kapoi Jr., a local of Hawaii. The names of the other two victims have not been released. 

“We are saddened by this incident, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” Rear Adm. Robert Chadwick, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, said in a statement posted on Facebook. “The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is a vital part of our Navy ohana, and we have generations of families who work there. Our security forces are working closely with agencies investigating this incident, and we are making counseling and other support available to those who need it after this tragedy.”

Officials have not reported a motive by the shooter. At the time of the shooting, Romero’s duty was to guard the USS Columbia, a Pearl Harbor-based submarine that was in the drydock for maintenance at the time.

According to the Navy Region Hawaii, Base security, Navy investigative services, and other agencies are investigating the incident. However, Hawaii News Now is reporting that Romero had been ordered to take anger management classes. The outlet says that Romero “was having disciplinary problems at work,” and was instructed to seek help for his anger issues. 

Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, told reporters that he wasn’t sure if Romero knew the people he shot. Shipyard Commander Capt. Greg Burton did send a message to families of the victims, saying, “Looking ahead, we will honor the life and legacy of those lost,” Burton said, according to Hawaii News Now

“Even now, as we mourn the loss of members of our ”ohana, please take the opportunity to reconnect with each other and to reinforce and strengthen the bonds with each other.”

This Saturday marked the 78th anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and elsewhere, including in San Diego.

Credit: @HeavySan / Twitter

“We still owe a great debt to the greatest generation,” Scott McGaugh, the marketing director for the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, said to the San Diego Tribune. There are very few of them left. When we honor these kinds of days it reminds all of us that our nation can come together and unify for the greater good. That was certainly the case in World War II.”

On Dec.r 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor military base in Hawaii, killing  2,335 military servicemen and women, and 68 civilians.  It is unclear if the Saturday anniversary event at Pearl Harbor will pay respect to the people who died this week. 

READ:  At 104 Years Of Age, Ray Chavez Hits The Gym He Can Visit Pearl Harbor