CINCINNATI -- A federal judge will hear next week whether a plea deal has been reached in the case of a 24-year-old man authorities say claimed to be a long-missing child.
U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett has a Jan. 8 status conference set in the case of Brian Michael Rini, of Medina, Ohio. Barrett postponed a June trial after questions were raised about Rini's mental state, but on Oct. 31 he found him competent to stand trial.
A court transcript of the Oct. 31 hearing made available recently shows that the defense and prosecution have discussed settling the case before trial.
“We believe that those discussions are going to likely be fruitful,” Richard Monahan, a federal public defender, told the judge.
Messages were sent Monday seeking comment from the defense attorney and the U.S. Attorney's office.
Rini has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated identity theft and lying to FBI agents. He would face up to eight years in prison if convicted.
He's been held without bond since last April.
Rini was spotted April 3 wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky, where police say he claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen, an Aurora, Illinois, boy who disappeared in 2011 at age 6. Authorities said Rini told them he had just escaped captors who sexually abused him.
Federal authorities said they were suspicious after he refused to be fingerprinted. DNA testing quickly revealed his true identity. Rini had been released from a state prison in March 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.
A federal magistrate had cited Rini's lack of a permanent address, past mental health issues and "a lengthy criminal history" that goes back to age 13. In 2017, Rini was treated at an Ohio center for people with mental health or substance abuse problems, according to court papers.
The Oct. 31 transcript shows he was sent to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago last summer for evaluation. Barrett said the evaluation report indicates Rini has “some symptoms of depressive disorder which are in remission,” but that he is able to understand legal proceedings and assist in his defense.
Follow Dan Sewell at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell