Workers at Contra Costa's county hospital could never quite figure out Barry White Jr.

One said he would wear earbuds and ignore other staff at the Martinez facility. And it's unclear how the 23-year-old Antioch man, suspected of killing two San Francisco jewelry store employees and critically injuring the owner in July, worked for almost a decade, earning $66,000 in total compensation over that time, as a student-worker when he lacked the one fundamental requirement -- he wasn't a student.

One employee, who wished to remain anonymous and is not authorized to speak to media, said it was nepotism -- White's aunt works at the hospital and his mother works for the county's personnel division.

"It appeared he had no official duties," the employee said. "He had two words in his title, 'student' and 'worker.' No one believes he did either of those."

White's attorney, Steve Taxman, said White never attended college, so it's unclear how he qualified for the student-worker position, which requires applicants to be enrolled in school or an approved training program.

"The Health Services Department is reviewing whether he was still a student while employed," said Kate Fowlie, department spokeswoman. She said he worked since December 2004 in the radiology department, while still a minor. His duties including filing, distributing mail and reports and making copies.


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White never received a background check after his 2004 hiring, Fowlie said. The anonymous health care worker questions workplace security, particularly after White was allowed to continue working after he was accused in 2009 of trying to run over a police officer in Antioch.

Fowlie said she could not discuss confidential personnel actions involving any employee, but said, "The Health Services Department is committed to ensuring a safe environment for staff and those we serve."

She also deflected criticism that White got the eight-year "temporary" job through nepotism.

"Family members of county employees are not barred from working for the county," Fowlie said. "The Health Services Department prohibits student workers from directly reporting to a relative. Barry White Jr. did not report to a family member."

He was fired from the county hospital July 18, the day his charges appeared in media reports.

Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.