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.”
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