Brian Michael Rini, the young man who told police he was missing teen Timmothy Pitzen has a history of lying to police about his identity, officials revealed on Friday.
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Police reported Thursday that the person who identified himself as Pitzen, who disappeared when he was 6 years old in 2011 and would be 14 years old now, was in fact a 23-year-old from Ohio.
A DNA test proved the young man was not Pitzen. Rather, he is Brian Michael Rini, and this wasn't his first run-in with law enforcement.
Ben Glassman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said Rini "had actually on two prior occasions claimed to be a victim of juvenile sex trafficking." In those cases, which took place in northern Ohio but the dates of which were not publicly released, Rini's identity was determined when his fingerprints were tested by authorities, Glassman said.
In this case, Rini refused to give his fingerprints to law enforcement officials, but he did allow them to swab him, which was then used to run a DNA test.
"I think there were suspicions relatively quickly if for no other reason than he declined to be fingerprinted," Glassman said.
Glassman said that on multiple occasions Rini had identified himself as Pitzen to FBI agents, after the agents had identified themselves. After the DNA test was completed and the results confirmed his true identity, a FBI agent reminded him that it was a crime to lie to a federal agent, and they read him his Miranda rights.
"Nevertheless, he again said that he was Timmothy Pitzen," Glassman said, noting that agents "confronted him with the DNA results and at that point, the person stated immediately that he was not Timmothy Pitzen."
In the news conference, Glassman said that Rini learned about the missing boy on television several weeks ago. A show “20/20 on OWN Presents: Crime,” which detailed the Pitzen case last aired on Jan. 28, according to Discovery, Inc. which owns the channel.
Rini now faces a federal criminal charge for lying to a federal agent, which is punishable with up to eight years in federal prison. Glassman noted the possible sentence is a reflection of the fact that Rini is accused of "lying about a material matter that involves the sex trafficking of children."
"My heart goes out to the family of Timmothy Pitzen. I can only imagine the kind of pain that they have been through and that this episode has caused for them," Glassman said.
Glassman did not go into any further details about Rini's criminal history except to confirm he was "recently released from custody in March."
According to Medina, Ohio, police chief Ed Kinney, Rini "has an extensive criminal history with Medina police and documented mental issues," he told ABC station WLS.
"He has between 50 and 60 interactions with Medina police, more than nine pages," Kinney told WLS.
The suspect's family echoed that sentiment and noted he had been receiving unspecified treatment for undisclosed issues.
"He was receiving treatment but then he stopped and started getting in more trouble," his brother Jonathan Rini told ABC station WEWS.
"I told the family that I'm sorry for what he's done," Jonathan Rini said.
Police are expected to give an update on the case Friday morning. There have been no statements about any possible charges involved in the case.
For their part, relatives of Pitzen gave a statement after the DNA test made it clear he was not a match, expressing their disappointment and their empathy for Rini.
"We hope that everyone will join us in praying for the young man," Timmothy Pitzen's aunt Kara Jacobs said of Brian Rini.
"I don't think that anything involving a child is a hoax and I will reserve all judgement and pray for the young man," she said Thursday.