A taxicab driver who was convicted of sexually assaulting a passenger in July 2014 is no longer allowed to drive a cab in Honolulu.
A Circuit Court jury convicted Enio Ruben Tablas, 54, of two counts of third-degree sexual assault Friday. Tablas has been charged in another sexual assault case involving a passenger, but no trial date has been set in that case.
Under city rules, Tablas had been able to work as a cabdriver while the charges were pending. On Monday the city revoked his certificate.
“When the conviction came down, as mayor I picked up the phone and called the city’s Customer Services Department director,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said. “I said, ‘We have a conviction now, so we can take action.'”
The Customer Services Department oversees taxi operations. Director Sheri Kajiwara sent Tablas a letter Monday.
“The crimes that Mr. Tablas has been convicted of are highly disturbing,” Kajiwara said. “In the interest of public safety, my office is notifying Mr. Tablas and his current employers that his taxicab driver’s certificate is revoked effective immediately.”
On July 5, 2014, Tablas picked up a woman, then 21, who had been drinking in Waikiki. The woman testified that she felt safe because there were already two other passengers in the cab. Tablas dropped off the other passengers, then drove the woman to Kahala Beach, where he sexually assaulted her. Tablas then drove her home, and as she left he said, “Remember me … I’m the red cab.”
Tablas is free on bail but faces up to five years in prison on each of the two counts when he is sentenced Jan. 27. He will have to register as a sex offender.
He also faces two counts of sexual assault in the second case. A woman, 21, told police she was walking alone along Nuuanu Avenue at 1 a.m. March 29, 2014. She said she had been drinking, and Tablas approached her in his cab and offered her a free ride. She told police she passed out in the cab, and when she awoke Tablas was raping her. She said he told her to smile and took her picture before dropping her off near Ala Moana Center.
The charges against Tablas were highlighted in a September Honolulu Star-Advertiser series on the city’s oversight of the taxi industry. Although Tablas has past convictions for theft, driving with a suspended or revoked license due to DUI, failure to take a chemical test and numerous traffic violations in California and Hawaii, he was allowed to get a taxi license because the city’s criminal background checks go back only two years and are limited to Hawaii.