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Alleged Timmothy Pitzen Hoaxer Learned About Missing Boy On ‘20/20,’ Authorities Say As He Is Formally Charged

Brian Rini has been charged with making false statements to a federal agent. Authorities say he admitted to the lie because "he wanted to get away from his own family."

By Gina Tron
Brian Rini and Timmothy Pitzen

An Ohio man who allegedly pretended to be an Illinois boy missing since 2011 has been charged with making false statements to a federal agent.

Brian Rini allegedly posed as Timmothy Pitzen, a child who vanished in at the age of 6 and would be 14 now. The 23-year-old Rini was charged Friday in federal court, Cincinnati.com reports.

According to a federal complaint obtained by the publication, after DNA tests exposed Rini to not be Pitzen, he allegedly admitted that he heard about the missing boy’s story on ABC's “20/20.” An episode on the Pitzen case reportedly re-ran within the last few weeks.

"He stated that he wanted to get away from his own family. When questioned further, Rini stated that he wished he had a father like Timmothy's because if he went missing, his father would just keep drinking," the complaint said.

Initially, Rini allegedly refused to give DNA or fingerprints after he claimed to be the boy.

On Wednesday, witnesses say he he ran up to them in Newport, Kentucky looking for help and claiming to be the Pitzen.

"He walked up to my car and he went, 'Can you help me?'" a 911 caller told dispatchers, according to WCPO in Cincinnati. "'I just want to get home. Please help me.' I asked him what's going on, and he tells me he's been kidnapped and he's been traded through all these people and he just wanted to go home."

Pitzen, of Aurora, Illinois, disappeared at age 6. Pitzen’s mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, picked him up at school on May 11, 2011, took him to the zoo and a water park, and then killed herself at a hotel, leaving a note in which she said her son was fine but insisted that no one would ever find him. His family has been trying to track him down ever since.

"False reports like this can be painful to the families of missing children and also divert law enforcement resources in order to investigate those untruthful claims," the FBI Cincinnati said in a statement on Friday.

Rini was released from prison last month after he serving time for both burglarizing and vandalizing a $400,000 home for sale in Ohio in 2017, according to Tribune Media. Videos on Facebook allegedly showed Rini inside that home during the incident exclaiming, “We're going to party. Bring your own drugs." He also allegedly has a history of writing bad checks.

“I’m not surprised. I mean, he’s nuts,” his sibling Jonathan Rini, 21, told CBS 19 in Cleveland when asked how he felt about his brother’s alleged attempt to pose as the boy. “He’s been doing stupid stuff, not this serious, but he’s been doing stupid stuff for as long as I can remember.”

Jonathan Rini claims his brother struggles from mental health issues and before going to prison spent a lot of time in juvenile detention.

“He has Asperger’s, bipolar disorder, ADHD, the list goes on,” he said.

He said he hasn’t seen his brother in four years. They stopped talking after he claimed Brian started using his name when he would get into legal trouble.

“Once he started using my name for things he was doing, I have no compassion for him whatsoever,” he alleged.

According to the federal complaint, Brian had twice before this incident claimed to be a victim of child sex trafficking.

It’s unclear if Brian Rini has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf at this time. He could face up to eight years in federal prison if convicted of the new charges.