Monday, May 26th 2003, 7:07AM
A Long Island elementary school janitor has been exposed as a hood-wearing, Hitler-loving klansman who kept an arsenal of guns and hate literature and practiced cross burning in upstate New York, authorities said yesterday.
Joseph Donato Jr., 34, of West Islip, was charged yesterday with weapon possession.
He was arrested Friday at John Quincy Adams Elementary School in Deer Park, L.I., where he works as a $30,000-a-year janitor on the 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift.
Cops said they were investigating the extent of Donato's involvement with the KKK - including whether he tried to recruit children to the white supremacist group.
Suffolk County police detectives said they found an Aryan coloring book among the assault rifles, bayonets, swords, nunchakus, ammunition, Nazi flags and a full KKK gown and hood he kept in his bedroom.
"He admitted to us that he is a member of the Ku Klux Klan," said Detective Lt. James Burke of the Suffolk County district attorney's squad, adding that Donato kept a photo of Adolf Hitler on his bedroom wall.
"He further admitted that he has the position of 'County Klester,' which is a position in which he performs security at [KKK] meetings," Burke said.
Donato was hit with two misdemeanors for possessing a pair of handguns he didn't have a license for, although Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said federal officials are investigating and there could be more charges.
Donato was released last night after his 70-year-old father, with whom he lives on Bay Shore Ave. in West Islip, posted $2,500 bail.
"It's pretty disturbing," said one of Donato's neighbors, John Scheid.
"You never even think that something like that would happen in your neighborhood, but there are extremists wherever you go," Scheid added.
Burke said Donato said his hatred of other races stemmed from his childhood in Queens.
"As a young person he felt as though he was being picked on by African-Americans, and he felt scared of them," Burke said.