Public Service Luminary Lynn Tabbott ’86 Retires as NYS Chief Deputy Inspector General

Lynn Tabbott

New York State Chief Deputy Inspector General Lynn Tabbott ’86 has retired from the Offices of the Inspector General (OIG) after a long career in public service. 

By Teresa Novellino

New York State Chief Deputy Inspector General Lynn Tabbott ’86 has retired from the Offices of the Inspector General (OIG), bidding goodbye to a satisfying career in public service and to her team, although Tabbott joked that at a December farewell party, colleagues were openly “taking bets” on whether she actually could stop working. 

Besides energy, Tabbott displayed impressive range in her legal career, sliding into tough assignments and varied opportunities with aplomb.  

“At some point, I had the opportunity to sit everywhere you could sit in the courtroom,” Tabbott said. “I was a prosecutor, a defense attorney, practiced some family law and some criminal law, and served as a local court judge... Just when you think you have seen it all, looking at it from a different point of view can be incredibly valuable.” 

Tabbott’s most recent vantage point was a top perch at the OIG, where she started as special deputy Inspector General in November 2014, and moved up to Chief Deputy Inspector General in May 2022, overseeing other deputy inspector generals in offices statewide. The OIG holds accountable powerful executive branch agencies such as Workers’ Compensation, Unemployment Insurance, Gaming (including casinos, online, racing, etc.), the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, some aspects of the State Police, and certain infrastructure projects. The purview includes top executives, rank-and-file employees, and contractors in cases that span fraud, abuses of office, criminality, and conflicts of interest. Tabbott’s major cases included large state construction projects, including at the former Tappan Zee Bridge, Moynihan Train Hall, and the Javits Center.  

Many OIG complaints are from Department of Corrections and Community Supervision employees and incarcerated people, and under New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang and Tabbott’s tenure, the OIG released four major reports on state prisons, including two that dealt with faulty drug testing, resulting in punishment of individuals who had not used drugs. Another investigated racial disparities in how punishment was doled out to incarcerated individuals, and a fourth examined how prison guards’ abuse of the Workers’ Compensation system created safety and staffing issues. Tabbott’s criminal law background made her invaluable. 

“Retiring Chief Deputy Inspector General Lynn Tabbott’s record of service – as a prosecutor, an investigator, and a leader – speaks for itself,” Lang said. “The Offices of the New York State Inspector General were fortunate to have her steady hand at the helm during the transition into my administration, and her wisdom, experience, and hilarious one-liners will be missed by all of us who served alongside her.”  

Early Attraction to Criminal Law 

At Brooklyn Law School, Tabbott was quickly drawn to criminal law, and still cherishes Evidence class lessons from Professor Richard T. Farrell ’64. “If you're going to go to court and be a litigator, mastering evidence is one of the most important things that you can do,” she said.  

Tabbott also interned at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, working with two experienced assistant district attorneys (ADAs) in the homicide bureau, and falling hard for the high-stakes work. “There I am a third-year law student listening to a murder case being prepped, and the ADA is telling a police officer, ‘Listen, make sure when you are on the stand, all you have to do is tell the truth. Do not guess. Don't speculate.’” she recalled. “The next semester I worked in the criminal court, and by then I was hooked.” 

After graduating, Tabbott became an ADA in Brooklyn herself, spending five years there (eventually as a supervisor) during the crack epidemic in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when crime was soaring. After leaving the city to start a family, she became the first domestic violence prosecutor in Orange County, N.Y., showcasing her ability to work across different groups by coordinating with victims and a county-wide team that included victim’s services groups, probation, and police departments.  

From 1999 to 2006, Tabbot was assistant attorney general with the New York State Attorney General’s office, investigating public integrity cases, as well as white collar and environmental crimes. She investigated allegations of abuse and misconduct by the Wallkill Police Department, which resulted in the department having a federal monitor overseeing its activities.  

Tabbott then went into the private sector as an associate first at Stern & Rindner in Goshen, N.Y., and then at Bonacic, Krahulik & Associates in Middletown, N.Y. During this period, she also worked part-time as a judge in the village of Chester, N.Y., presiding over criminal and civil cases. Finally, she returned to the state AG’s office as an assistant AG, this time in White Plains, N.Y. and remained there until 2014, when she joined the OIG.  

Tabbott explained that her background in criminal law and investigations, requiring a mix of desk research and people skills, served her well as she moved up the state agency ranks. 

 “It does require a level of experience, being able to sift through the facts for the salient questions, and basically doing your homework upfront by reviewing records, speaking to and categorizing witnesses, and being effective in witness interviews,” Tabbott said. “I was able to approach people for a meaningful exchange of information, or to obtain the information that I needed, without under or overstating the case.” 

Part of the OIG work involved encouraging best practices to help avoid infractions. “You do not always need the gotcha moment. Sometimes you can come in and nip it in the bud,” she said.  

And, while she is leaving public service, this may not be Tabbott’s last chapter in legal work. For one, she would like to mentor law students, including those interested in public service, where opportunities in litigation and appellate work, and different types of bureaus abound, she said.   

“I would tell a younger attorney thinking about public service: ‘Look, you are not going to get rich. But at the end of the day, you can do some really satisfying things with your career,’” Tabbott said. “Often in public service, you get a tremendous amount of experience simply because of the volume. And that is a good thing.”