Janitor earning $375k a year caught hiding in closet

A San Francisco janitor who earned over US$271,000 (NZ$375,000) a year has been caught allegedly hiding in a closet for hours instead of working.

The accused janitor, Liang Zhao Zhang, was on a base salary of US$57,945 in 2015 working for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.

However, records released by the non-profit Transparent California show in addition he earned over US$162,050 extra in overtime payments.

An investigation by US news station KTVU revealed the overtime he claimed for included working nearly 20 hours a day, for 18 days straight in July 2015.

They also report he worked full-time hours during his annual leave.

"It's absolutely outrageous," Transparent California's Robert Fellner told KTVU.

"For janitors that's obscene! It's unconscionable."

KTVU asked the transport system managers for video evidence of what Mr Zhang did during his work.

Surveillance footage showed him regularly disappearing into a storage closet.

On the first day he went into the closet twice, once for 54 minutes and the second time for about 90 minutes.

On another occasion he entered the closet for 90 minutes the first time, and 78 later on.

BART has defended Mr Zhang's actions.

"He's worked hard, he's completed the assignments, so I stand by the work he's done," chief transportation officer Roy Aguilera told KTVU.

At least 49 other janitors took home more than US$100,000 in 2015. BART has never audited them.