CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — An Ohio man who falsely claimed to be a long-missing Aurora, Illinois child has been sentenced to serve two years behind bars and one year of probation for aggravated identity theft.
Twenty-five-year-old Brian Michael Rini apologized during the video hearing Tuesday, before U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett made his sentence official.READ MORE: Teen Charged In 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega's Murder Has Criminal Record For Carjacking And Gun Charges
In April of 2019, Rini was spotted April 3 wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky. Police there said he claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen, an Aurora, Illinois, boy who disappeared in 2011 at the age of six.
Authorities said Rini told them he escaped captors who sexually abused him. But federal authorities said they were suspicious after he refused to be fingerprinted. DNA testing quickly revealed his true identity.
Rini was released from a state prison in March of 2019 after serving more than a year on burglary and vandalism charges. Prison records show he was accused of making up stories during his time there.
When confronted with the DNA results, Rini said he’d watched a story about Timmothy on ABC’s “20/20” and wanted to get away from his own family, the FBI said. Authorities said he twice earlier portrayed himself in Ohio as a juvenile victim of sex trafficking.
Timmothy has been missing since 2011, when his mother was found dead in Rockford, after pulling the six-year-old out of school and taking him on a trip to Wisconsin. He would be 15 years old today.
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Last year after Rini was taken to a hospital in Cincinnati, DNA tests confirmed his real identity. The child’s father was anxious to find out what happened.
“When this had happened, I was at work. The detective on Timmothy’s case called me and said that they had a lead in Kentucky. I got another phone call later that night, and he goes ‘The person does not carry himself as a 14-year-old.’ Then they took DNA, and it came back that it wasn’t Timmothy,” Jim Pitzen said.
Timmothy’s family said they feel pity for Rini, but they’re shattered, and left to pick up the pieces once again.
Barrett told Rini earlier this year he faced a mandatory two-year sentence, but the judge wanted to see results of a presentencing investigation before entering it.
Rini gets credit for time served, so he will be released on probation in less than four months.
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