Old conviction could bring deportation of popular barber
Ayato Endo lied about his status because of a 1984 sex conviction
STORY SUMMARY »
A citizen of Japan but living in the United States, Ayato Endo has been cutting hair at Thom's Barber Shop for more than three decades.
But his past caught up with him when he received notice that as a convicted sex offender, he was to register with the state. He complied in January 2006, but on the form he claimed that he was a U.S. citizen. He would later admit he lied because he was afraid of being deported.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been doing a more thorough review of all convicted sex offenders, specifically looking for immigration-related offenses, and discovered Endo was an alien.
The popular barber was arrested Wednesday and returns to court today.
FULL STORY »
A longtime Ala Moana barber has been arrested for immigration offenses more than 20 years after he was convicted of sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl.
A federal grand jury indicted Ayato Endo, also known as John Endo, 61, of Honolulu yesterday for falsely claiming he was a U.S. citizen. A hearing to decide whether he will be detained without bail is scheduled for today.
Endo, a Japanese citizen and a lawful U.S. permanent resident alien since October 1971, was found guilty in 1984 of first-degree sexual abuse and faced deportation. He was sentenced to five years' probation and eight consecutive weekends in jail. Although the conviction was for a deportable offense, he somehow remained off the radar of immigration officials.
When notified in 2006 that he was required to register as a sex offender, Endo went to the Honolulu Police Department on Jan. 10 to comply but told the police clerk that he was a U.S. citizen.
According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Endo admitted he lied when the clerk asked him if he was a U.S. citizen, "out of fear of being deported after all these years."
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been conducting a more thorough review of convicted sex offenders and discovered he was an alien, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Hino.
"We didn't find Endo by accident," Hino said. "We were specifically looking for convicted sex offenders who were either in the country illegally or who were subject to deportation based on their sex conviction."
Clifford Kibota, ICE senior special agent, painstakingly reviewed Department of Homeland Security records, alien files, HPD arrest reports, state court records of Endo's sex abuse conviction and his sex offender registry file maintained by the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center. It was the sex offender registration form that got Endo.
If convicted, Endo faces a maximum of three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and deportation.
Endo was initially arrested Jan. 18 and questioned. He said he has maintained good behavior since his 1984 conviction and was gainfully employed. "However, he worried throughout his residence in Hawaii that his alien status could be discovered and (he would) be deported from the United States," Kibota said in his affidavit.
Endo was rearrested Wednesday and made his initial court appearance that afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang recused himself from the case after noting that he knew Endo from Thom's Barber Shop at Ala Moana Center.
"This is an example of someone who fell through the cracks," said Dwight Nakamura, 50, who has managed the shop since 1974. He took over the daily operations from mother, Beatrice, who purchased the shop in 1965.
Endo has worked there for more than 30 years and had clientele "from here to Katmandu," Nakamura said. Judges, attorneys, doctors, even Indian chiefs frequented the establishment. Endo was already working there when Nakamura started working at the shop at age 17.
Described as a "model employee, one of the best," Endo worked 13 hours a day, six days a week and rarely called in sick, Nakamura said.
Customers have been calling for Endo asking when he will be back, he said. The older barbers have tears in their eyes when they talk about him and do not understand the trouble he is in.
Endo, one of 13 barbers who work at Thom's, is usually in by 7:15 a.m. waiting for the doors to open at 8 a.m. and ends his day at 9 p.m., Nakamura said.
He took his lunch breaks on the fly and never took longer than 45 minutes before he was back to work, Nakamura said, adding that Endo was so dependable that at one time he held the keys to open the shop. "That's how trustworthy he was," Nakamura said.
They knew he had a "green card" and assumed he renewed it as required. They knew of his molestation conviction in 1984, but it did not affect his performance at work, Nakamura said. "He has children as young as 1 to 99" as customers. "Parents trust him, respect him -- he's very professional."
Barbers are like bartenders, and, like his colleagues, Endo liked to shoot the breeze with customers, Nakamura said. He was one of two employees at Thom's who speak Japanese, which endeared him to the Japanese clientele.
He hopes Endo's attorney can help secure his release soon so he can return to work. "The man had no complaints from customers," Nakamura said.
Assistant Federal Defender Pamela Byrne had just been assigned the case and declined to comment.