Settlement possible in drug case against former Pembroke Academy dean

  • Rekha Luther, the former Pembroke Academy dean of students charged with bringing heroin into the school, waived her probable cause hearing at Hooksett District Court on Monday. Her lawyer, Michael Iacopino (left) waited in court with her. (GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff) GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

  • Rekha Luther breaks down while listening to her father testify at her bail hearing at Merrimack County Superior Court on Tuesday, July 18, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 11/3/2017 4:05:51 PM

Nearly two years after a Pembroke Academy dean was quietly arrested on drug charges, attorneys will meet in an effort to resolve the criminal case without a trial.

Rekha Luther, 38, of Manchester recently waived her right to a speedy trial to allow for the settlement conference, which is scheduled for Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord.

The case against Luther, who previously served as dean of students, has taken many twists and turns over the last year. Court documents show that Luther had initially reached a plea agreement with county prosecutors but then withdrew her request in April and asked the court to schedule a summer jury trial.

However, that trial never went forward. Luther failed to appear for jury selection on July 10 and, as a result, a judge issued a warrant for her arrest. She was subsequently taken into custody in Manchester and held without bail pending a hearing. She’s since been released and remains under supervision of the Merrimack County jail.

After her arrest for failing to appear in court, Luther pleaded with a judge to allow her access to an inpatient drug treatment facility instead of locking her up. Her father, Neville Pereira, testified during the bail hearing that drugs had taken control of his daughter’s life, and that Luther had been in search of help without success.

Judge Richard McNamara, who presided over the hearing, ordered Luther held on $40,000 cash bail, pending her acceptance into a program, at which time her bail would be reduced to $10,000 personal recognizance.

Moving forward, Luther will be represented by public defender Robin Davis. Attorney Julia Pothen, who also works for the New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office, withdrew from the case in early August.

Luther is accused of having fentanyl and testosterone propionate in her possession at Pembroke Academy in early 2016. A grand jury indicted her that summer on two Class B felonies – each of which could carry up to seven years in prison – and two “enhanced felonies” for the charges of possession of a narcotic in a “safe school zone.”

Luther was immediately placed on leave from Pembroke Academy following her arrest, but school officials made no public comment about the incident until it was reported in the newspaper. School superintendent Patty Sherman insisted it was illegal for her to discuss the public criminal charges against Luther.

Luther resigned as dean of students on March 22, 2016.

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)

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