May 15—For months as the coronavirus pandemic raged, Westmoreland County drug court participants quarantined at home and away from the much-needed counsel and treatment for their addictions.
That's where Tony Marcocci, a detective with the county District Attorney's Office, stepped up, according to the two judges who oversee the special court program.
"During the shutdown, probation officers and sheriffs were not allowed to do home visits," said Common Pleas Court Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio. "It takes about 30 seconds for drug participants to know that addiction feeds off isolation, and it wasn't a shock to see them struggle. They were kind of floundering out there.
"(Last) March and April, Tony was out there tracking them down. He saved countless lives during the shutdown."
Marcocci, 64, of Greensburg last month was presented with county's first "Tony Award," an honor named after him for his dedication to the court program that counsels and treats addicts. Officially named the Anthony "Tony" Marcocci Award of Excellence, it will be handed out each year to recognize efforts of community members associated with the drug court program who show selflessness and take extra effort to benefit others.
The program, since its inception in 2015, has graduated 52 people. In April, it gained state accreditation.
Marcocci has worked for more than four decades as a county detective and has been an integral part of the drug court program since its start. He said he was blindsided by the award.
"I was 100% surprised," he said. "It's just such an honor to be recognized by people you work with."
Marcocci has spent much of his career investigating drug offenses and for years served as an undercover detective working drug investigations.
When pandemic shutdowns closed court offices and limited the ability for caseworkers to go out into the field, Marcocci said he had no reservations about taking on that task and help those struggling with addiction, including many he has grown close to over the years.
"It needed to be done and somebody had to do it," he said. "I went out a couple of times a week. Covid took its toll on people with addiction. They needed someone to talk to them and show them we cared about them."
The judges said Marcocci went beyond his job duties to ensure the safety of drug court participants.
"His perseverance during this difficult time demonstrated a total sense of selflessness, always concerned over the well-being of those he was serving," said Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani.
Marcocci said he will continue on with the program and sees the award as his legacy.
"It totally blew me away," Marcocci said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .