CINCINNATI, Ohio — An Ohio man who falsely claimed in 2019 to be a long-missing boy received a mandatory two-year federal prison sentence on Tuesday after pleading guilty to aggravated identity theft.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett gave Brian Rini, 25, credit for time served in jail, where Rini has been detained for nearly 21 months. That means Rini will be released from prison in about three and a half months.
In April 2019, Rini told federal agents he was Timmothy Pitzen, an Aurora, Illinois, boy who disappeared at age 6 in 2011.
Rini claimed he was also a sex trafficking victim who escaped from his captors.
His lies prompted a massive federal, state and local investigation and raised the hopes of the Pitzen family, only to see them crushed again when the FBI soon exposed Rini's lie.
"I just want to say I'm sorry for what I've done and that I wish that I could just take it back," Rini said during a video hearing in Cincinnati. "I'm sorry for the family."
Rini has twice before made bogus claims about being a juvenile sex trafficking victim and only admitted to the hoax this time after being confronted with the results of a DNA test, according to the FBI.
"He can't keep doing this. This is no way to live his own life and he really needs to think of the people that he hurts when he does this," said Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Healey, who prosecuted the case.
Healey said Rini's lies prompted a major criminal investigation that pulled important law enforcement resources away from other cases, and caused "an enormous amount of unnecessary pain to the victim's family."
"He needs to understand that when he tells lies like this it does cause damage. It hurts people," Healey said.
Rini will be under court supervision for a year after his release from prison.
He said he expects to return to northern Ohio and live with his father.
This story was originally published by Craig Cheatham at WCPO.