For six years, a building supervisor in Spain quietly collected a $41,500 salary from his local government without showing up for work.
And he would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for him getting an award for his 20 years of loyal service.
Joaquín García, 69, was recently fined $30,000 for the extended paid vacation from a water treatment plant in Cádiz — the maximum penalty government officials could deliver, the BBC reported.
According to deputy mayor Jorge Blas, it wasn’t until Garcia was due to be recognized for his hard work in 2010 that authorities realized his office was sitting vacant.
“I wondered whether he was still working there, had he retired, had he died? But the payroll showed he was still receiving a salary,” Blas told Spanish newspaper El Mundo, according to The Local.
“I called him up and asked him, ‘What did you do yesterday? The month before, the month before that?’ He didn’t know what to say,” Blas said.
Garcia’s water company coworkers thought the plant was being overseen by local authorities because they hadn’t seen Garcia in so long.
Garcia’s attorney, speaking on his behalf, reportedly blamed bullying at his workplace for his absence. He also said there was no work to do.
People close to Garcia told El Mundo that he dedicated himself to reading philosophy instead and that he did not report the bullying out of fear that he could be fired.
Garcia retired after the allegations came to light, though he denies wrongdoing.
In the end, a court sided with the government, recently ordering him to pay the five-digit fine.
Garcia has since petitioned to the deputy mayor not to pay the fine and to have the judgment reviewed, The Local reported.