A Spanish government employee took a six-year break from work and still got paid before his bosses finally discovered the ruse, local media reported.

A Spanish court in January approved his fine which amounted to more than $30,000, according to El Mundo. Still, that's less than his $42,000 salary he earned each year under the reported scheme.

Joaquin Garcia, 69, supervised the construction of a waste water treatment plant in Cadiz, southwest of Seville, the BBC reports. The head of the water company said in court Garcia's office was near his, but for years he never saw the man.

The water company reportedly thought government officials were Garcia's bosses, and vice versa.

Officials said Garcia started skipping work in 2004. Deputy mayor Jorge Blas Fernández finally caught him in 2010 after Garcia became eligible for a special plaque honoring his "20 years' service," the BBC adds.

"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,'" the deputy mayor told reporters.

Garcia says officials got it all wrong. He claims he'd been bullied in an earlier job, so he switched assignments, headed to the treatment plant, and discovered there was nothing for him to do.

He apparently decided to keep his bosses in the dark because he feared he would not be able to find another job at his age, El Mundo reports.

The $30,000 fine was the most the company could reclaim under Spanish law, according to the BBC.

Garcia reportedly has retired. In fact, his attorney says the man has gone into hiding because of the media "lynching."