By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Longtime Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Zottola has died.

Judge Zottola was elected in 1993, then re-elected in 2003 and 2013.

(Source: Allegheny County Courts)

He served a pivotal role in the state’s Veterans Court Program — a mentorship program that helps veterans who had been previously convicted of crimes.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala released the following statement:

“My wife Mary and I offer our deepest sympathies to Marie and their children. My friendship with John Zottola goes back decades to our days as classmates at Central Catholic High School.  John’s death leaves a tremendous void not only on the bench, but also in our community.  There is no doubt that his work leading Veteran’s Court has saved a large number of lives and assisted in putting veterans, who have given so much to this country, on the path to recovery. John took the time to know everyone who appeared before him and when he addressed defendants, he always sought to encourage them to make a positive change not only for themselves, but for their family and friends.  John was first and foremost, a loving husband and father, as well as a dedicated and passionate jurist. I, along with the rest of this courthouse, will miss him deeply.”

Judge Zottola also had significant experience working with mental health the Mental Health Court.