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Ohio Man At Center Of Timmothy Pitzen Hoax Pleads Not Guilty To Lying To Federal Agents
Brian Michael Rini reportedly told authorities he was missing child Timmothy Pitzen, who would be 14 today. DNA testing proved this claim false.
A 23-year-old man who authorities say impersonated a long-missing child has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Brian Michael Rini, of Medina, Ohio, was arraigned Friday in Cincinnati. He was indicted this week on two counts of lying to federal agents and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Magistrate Karen Litkovitz advised Rini of his rights before asking his federal public defender for his plea.
He was initially arrested on a single false statement count after DNA testing proved he wasn't Timmothy Pitzen, an Aurora, Illinois, boy who disappeared in 2011 at age 6.
The federal magistrate earlier this month cited Rini's lack of a permanent address, past mental health issues and "a lengthy criminal history" that goes back to age 13 as she ordered him held without bond.
Police picked up Rini the morning of April 3 after a report that someone was wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky. They said he told them he was Timmothy and that he had escaped two kidnappers after years of sexual abuse.
Police took him to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for treatment and testing. Federal authorities have said they were skeptical, especially after he refused to be fingerprinted but didn't want to miss a chance to possibly solve the Pitzen disappearance.
The FBI said DNA testing established his identity as a convicted felon.
In 2017, Rini was treated at an Ohio center for people with mental health or substance abuse problems, according to court papers.
Timmothy, of Aurora, Illinois, vanished after his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, pulled him out of kindergarten, took him on a two-day road trip to the zoo and a water park, and then killed herself at a hotel. She left a note saying that her son was safe with people who would love and care for him, and added: "You will never find him."