Public Servant skips work for 10 years
A SPANISH public servant who skipped work for a decade without anyone noticing spent his free time running a male brothel and drawing erotic comics.
Carles Recio, who was paid a 50,000 euro ($80,000) salary as an archives director in Valencia's provincial government, would show up to the office every morning at 7:30am to clock in using the fingerprint scanner before heading home, only returning to the office at 3:30pm to clock out.
He kept up the routine for 10 years before colleagues began to raise suspicions. After Spanish newspaper El Mundo broke the story 18 months ago, Mr Recio was finally sacked, despite his insistence that he had done nothing wrong.
"I have only done what they have asked me to do," he told the paper in January.
Mr Recio maintained that he worked from home. "No one can show me a photograph in which I'm in a cafeteria, I'm a man of action," he told the Spanish TV channel La Sexta.
"I do documentation work out of the office, the work of a slave. Working like a slave means that I work so that others get the fruit of my labour."
State authorities abandoned an attempt to prosecute him after deciding his actions did not constitute a crime, but an administrative tribunal in Valencia this week banned Mr Recio from holding public posts for nine years for his "flagrant neglect of the essential duties inherent to the work post".
The tribunal found there was no evidence Mr Recio had performed any of the jobs he claimed, and that he had not even logged in to the corporate network since 2012 despite having his own computer.
It also found no evidence for his claims that he had told superiors he didn't have a desk following an office relocation, or that he had been assigned an external project to create an "inclusive art centre".
"There is not the slightest evidence that he was entrusted with the project of creating an inclusive art work centre or similar and the activities carried out by him are more like private dedications than authentic ones," the tribunal said.
The tribunal strongly criticised the local government for failing to properly supervise its employees, saying Mr Recio "became comfortable in the situation that benefited him" and his actions would not have been possible "without the acquiescence or the disinterest of the administration for which he worked".
He had been busy in other ways, however. In his free time, Mr Recio was making a name for himself as a erotic comic book artist and creator of the popular character Fallarela, a busty superhero who hurls flaming Valencia oranges at her enemies.
It also emerged Mr Recio had been running a male brothel out of his home since 2005. At one point he threatened to reveal the identities of his clients, warning there may have been cameras inside and the "graphic information" could comprise many politicians.
As part of his high-profile campaign to clear his name, Mr Recio even attempted to use a council venue for an art exhibition entitled, "Love for Valencia: the works of a man who never worked", with four floors of works including paintings, sculptures and even a bronze bust of himself.
The City of Valencia cancelled the show, which described Mr Recio as "the most slandered writer in modern-day Valencia", just before it was due to open after the council discovered he had booked the venue using a fake name.
The twists and turns of the bizarre case have dominated headlines in Spain. Following the tribunal's verdict, many were critical that Mr Recio was only suspended, avoiding the most serious sanction of permanent loss of his status as a public official.
In its editorial, El Mundo said it had received many tip-offs that Mr Recio's case was "not, by far, the only scandal of blatant absenteeism in public administrations".