06/26/12 7:00am
06/26/2012 7:00 AM

KATRINA LOVETT PHOTO | Multiple sources confirmed to the News-Review that this man was telling people he was Mike Love of the Beach Boys at Sunday's Cardboard Boat Race.

The man at the center of Sunday’s “American Idol” controversy is a longtime resident of Hampton Bays who had recently moved to Aquebogue, the News-Review has learned.

The identity of the man, Walter Klapatosk, 61, was confirmed by a relative who saw his photograph on our website.

Others who saw Mr. Klapatosk’s photograph described him as a person with a long history of spreading tall tales around Riverhead.

When he’s not telling people he’s Beach Boy Mike Love, he’s a member of the band Three Dog Night, or a former child actor from the 1950s television show “Leave it to Beaver,” according to the more than a half dozen emails, telephone messages and comments the News-Review received Monday night.

Most people who reached out to the News-Review said the man in the photograph is known to them as Rusty, a man who claims to be former “Leave it to Beaver” actor Rusty Stevens.

A background check showed a record of someone using the name Rusty Stevens living in the same apartment unit listed as Mr. Klapatosk’s most recent address in Hampton Bays. A relative later told us he iss now living in Aquebogue.

No criminal offenses appeared in the background check.

One former downtown business owner said the man she knew as Mr. Stevens would frequent her business, telling tales of his time in television and as a founding member of Three Dog Night.

He also promised her young female employees that he would use his show business connections to help them get recording contracts.

“He only approached young females, never the males,” she said. “We were proactive in warning the girls to not give him any information and definitely do not go anywhere with him.”

“He seemed to get wind that we were onto him and he disappeared,” she said.

Another News-Review reader said the man approached her at a Riverhead Country Fair and introduced her to a girl from Mastic whom he said he was going to help get on “American Idol.”

Amy Wesolowski, the Riverhead resident who said the man forced her to announce at Sunday’s Cardboard Boat Race that she was going to be on “American Idol,” confirmed for the News-Review Monday night that the man in the picture we received is the same man who told her he was Mike Love of the Beach Boys.

“What a sick person,” she said when told that other people said he has a history of similar incidents.

Ms. Wesolowski said she had not heard the name Walter Klapatosk before.

A thread on one blog post dedicated to Rusty Stevens, who played the character Larry Mondello on “Leave it to Beaver,” features comments dating as far back as 2008 that show a man has been going around Riverhead Town for years claiming to be the actor.

One commenter on the News-Review site said she once met a man claiming to be Larry from ‘Leave it to Beaver’ at a vineyard event, where he “was taking video and claiming to be searching for America’s next idol.”

Editor’s Note: If you have a similar story, email it to us.

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06/25/12 5:42pm
06/25/2012 5:42 PM

The man on the left is Mike Love of the Beach Boys. The man on the right, shown in a photo taken by Katrina Lovett, says he is.

One day after a Riverhead woman said a man who told her he was Mike Love of the Beach Boys forced her up on stage at the Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race to tell people she was going to be on “American Idol,” more people are coming forward to say they also encountered the man.

Calverton resident April Pokorny, 60, said a man also told her he was the 71-year-old founding member of the Beach Boys.

“He came up to me before the races started and he asked ‘can I share your shade?’” she said. She said she was surprised when the man told her he was Mike Love, but initially didn’t see any reason to distrust him.

Ms. Pokorny said the man looked older than 70 with long hair and seemed “very, very harmless and not at all creepy.”

The man told Ms. Pokorny he was in the area to promote girls performing at vineyards on the East End. When Ms. Pokorny offered to bring the news media to meet him, the man said he didn’t want to make the day about him, she said.

He also mentioned off-hand that he “got a girl who sang at the Vail-Leavitt onto American Idol,” she said. The strange man also acted like he knew the local theater scene.

“He seemed to know the Westhampton Beach theater which is kind of strange for a Beach Boy,” she said.

Ms. Pokorny said she had already gone home by the time the American Idol announcement was made.

Cardboard boat race emcee Anthony Coates said he heard from several other sources Sunday that a man claiming to be Mr. Love had also approached them.

Editor’s Note: Email us if you know who the man is, encountered him yourself or have additional photographs of him.

[email protected]