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    Malden police captain says officials blocked probes

    A Malden police captain has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit with a whistleblower claim against the city and the police chief, alleging that officials obstructed his efforts to investigate two crimes involving Malden city employees, then reassigned him when he refused to back down.

    Captain John Amirault, a 31-year veteran of the department, alleged he was blocked in his investigation into an alleged sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl at the Malden YMCA, by a suspect the police chief’s brother had hired; the other investigation concerned stolen city funds.

    “The public has a right to know what is happening in their city,” said Amirault’s attorney, Timothy M. Burke. “You have somebody that is earnestly attempting to properly investigate two serious criminal events . . . and is essentially punished and retaliated against because he’s attempting to do what he’s paid to do.”

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    Amirault was involuntarily removed from his position as head of the Detective Unit in November 2015 and assigned to “Accreditation,” according to the suit.

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    A city official speaking on behalf of the city of Malden and the police department said last week that they had not yet been served with the suit, which was filed Feb. 2, so she could not comment in detail.

    “We’re aware of what the allegations are and we vehemently deny them, but at this point we need time to process it,” said Maria Luise, special assistant to the mayor.

    In November 2014, Amirault began investigating the theft of a building department check for $2,236 that vanished from the desk of city employee Enos Henry, according to the federal suit and documents filed in Malden District Court. A surveillance camera that monitored Henry’s desk had been disconnected, according to the documents.

    Henry’s ex-girlfriend Jennifer Degand Rene told police Henry asked her to cash the check, according to court documents.

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    According to the suit, Amirault met with Malden Mayor Gary Christenson and Police Chief Kevin Molis to discuss the case, and Christenson said he thought the case was “long gone.” Amirault said he could offer Rene a plea bargain to testify against Henry, but according to the suit, neither Christenson nor Molis “expressed any interest.”

    When police executed a search warrant at Henry’s home, according to an affidavit and returns filed in district court, they discovered 75 checks made out to the city of Malden totaling $16,134.65.

    But when a grand jury subpoenaed records from the city so police could further investigate, according to the suit, officials failed to provide them, and the city treasurer falsely claimed no other records were available.

    The suit alleges that Henry’s mother is a “substantial political supporter” to the mayor and that the city’s failure to provide documentation delayed the grand jury process. Henry was charged with obstructing an investigation for allegedly moving evidence during the search of his home, but as of late last week he had not been indicted in Middlesex Superior Court on any larceny charges, officials said.

    Henry’s attorney, Terrence Kennedy, said his client was innocent, and that he had recently obtained evidence that would exonerate him. If the investigation was impeded, Kennedy pointed out, investigators could have missed evidence that would have proved Henry innocent.

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    In April 2015, Amirault began investigating the alleged sexual assault of the 6-year-old girl at the Malden YMCA, including surveillance video that has clear shots of the suspect, according to the suit.

    Chief Molis’s brother, Frank Molis, worked at the Y, according to the suit. When Frank Molis reviewed the images, he evinced no familiarity with the suspect.

    Frank Molis could not be reached for comment last week.

    When Amirault said he and the assistant district attorney assigned to the case wanted to release the suspect’s image because they feared that he was dangerous, the suit alleges that the police chief told him not to do that.

    When the suspect, a 15-year-old high school student, was identified and interviewed, he said Frank Molis hired him and that he had done a lot of work for him, according to the suit. The teen said he spoke with Frank Molis in the Y on the day of the attack, according to the suit.

    Frank Molis, however, later told Amirault that he did not know the teenager, according to the suit.

    When police requested surveillance video from the Y, some footage was missing, according to the suit.

    Police made audio and video recordings of their interview with the teenager, according to the suit. However, during the portion when the teenager was talking about knowing Frank Molis, the recording was halted from outside the interview room, the suit alleges.

    In July 2015, the case was transferred to Norfolk County because of the potential conflict of interest caused by the police chief’s relationship with his brother, according to the suit.

    Amirault’s attorney, Burke, said the teenager has been charged in connection with the assault.

    Chief Kevin Molis reassigned Amirault in November to a position in which he would handle “accreditation” full time, instead of running the detective unit.

    “He was taken out of the flow of everyday investigative activities and essentially put into a small room where he does quote-unquote accreditation,” Burke said, “which is nothing short of retaliatory.”

    Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @EvanMAllen.