CHICAGO (CBS) — Brian Michael Rini, 23, of Medina, Ohio, was charged Friday with making false statements to federal agents, accused of making up a story that he was Timmothy Pitzen, the Aurora boy was last seen eight years ago.
If convicted, Rini could face up to eight years in federal prison, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. Rini made an initial appearance in federal court today in Cincinnati, U.S Attorney Benjamin Glassman said Friday.
Rini has made similar claims twice before, Glassman said.
“It is not OK to make false claims to law enforcement in matters like this,” Glassman said. “It is not OK because it causes pain to the missing child’s family.” It also diverts law enforcement resources who “move heaven and earth” to investigate the claims, he said.
The affidavit filed in federal court Friday says Rini repeatedly told investigators he was Pitzen and that he had been kidnapped and sexually abused. He is being held without bond.
The affidavit says Rini, who was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, refused to be fingerprinted but submitted to a DNA test after which his true identity was determined. After Rini was confronted with DNA evidence, he admitted to federal agents that he was not Pitzen.
Investigators admitted that they had their doubts about Rini’s claim.
“I think that declining to be finger printed certainly is a red flag,” Glassman said.
The affidavit says Rini had recently watched a 20/20 segment about Pitzen. Ohio state records show the segment aired around that time that Rini was released from an 18 month stint in prison for burglary and vandalism.
Investigators determined Rini had twice before falsely portrayed himself as a juvenile sex trafficking victim.
“False reports in cases like Timmothy’s is traumatic to families,” Robert Brown, FBI’s Special Agent in Charge of the Louisville Field Office. “Lying to the FBI has consequences.”
Rini has a long rap sheet, and he got out of prison just a month ago on that burglary and vandalism case.
Now, even his family members say he needs to be punished for what he’s done.
Rini’s own brother is disgusted. Jonathan Rini said he hasn’t talked to his brother in years but worries that he’s off the medicine he’s prescribed for a range of mental health issues.
“He was receiving treatment, but then he stopped and started getting in more trouble,” Jonathan Rini said. “He was in juvy a lot when we were kids, and then he went to jail and actually he just got out of prison.”
Brian Rini is fresh out of a year and a half with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction on March 7.
He was ordered to three years of probation upon release, which would have required him to obtain a written travel permit before leaving the State of Ohio. It’s not clear if that happened.
And it’s clear that long before claiming to be Pitzen, Rini had a lot of contact with police. His criminal record dates back to at least 2013 and includes a history of lying.
CBS 2 discovered that he pleaded guilty to two charges of “making false alarms” in 2015 and 2016.
His brother said that he’s even impersonated him.
“He used my name in a traffic stop in Norton and skipped court, and I received a traffic warrant for it,” Jonathan Rini said.
The person, who police now say was Rini, was seen roaming alone Wednesday morning in Newport, Kentucky, and told officers that he was Timmothy Pitzen, and had just escaped from two kidnappers who had been holding him for seven years. According to a police dispatch report, he told police he was born Oct. 18, 2004. That is Timmothy Pitzen’s birthday.
Rini first told police he was being held by two white men with bodybuilder builds, according to one police report. He said one man has black curly hair, a spider web tattoo on his neck, and was was wearing a Mountain Dew shirt and jeans. The other man was described as short with a snake tattoo on his arms.