Cadet First Class Nicholas Locarno was the leader of Starfleet Academy's Nova Squadron in 2368. He was expelled from Starfleet Academy after causing the death of a fellow cadet and forcing those under him to cover up the accident.
Shortly before commencement, on stardate 45703, the Nova Squadron flight team was involved in an accidental collision trying to do the highly controversial and banned Kolvoord Starburst maneuver for the graduation ceremony on the Academy Flight Range near one of Saturn's moons, Titan. Cadet Joshua Albert was killed in the crash, while the other members of the team were able to activate their emergency transporters to escape their doomed ships.
Locarno convinced his team members – Wesley Crusher, Sito Jaxa and Jean Hajar – that the accident was Albert's fault and persuaded them to ultimately cover up the fact that they performed a prohibited maneuver and lie at the subsequent hearing. However, the truth was discovered by Captain Jean-Luc Picard who believed that Locarno wanted to end his Academy career in a blaze of glory and that he convinced the other team members to learn the Kolvoord starburst for the commencement demonstrations, allowing Locarno to graduate as a living legend. Outraged, Picard confronted Wesley Crusher about it, asking him to either come forward or else he would do it for him. Locarno, who had always insisted that everything he did was for his friends and the team, took full responsibility for the accident and was subsequently expelled from the Academy. Locarno made a passionate plea to the inquiry board which saved the other members also from almost certain expulsion. (TNG: "The First Duty")
|Members of Nova Squadron|
|Nicholas Locarno • Jean Hajar • Sito Jaxa • Wesley Crusher • Joshua Albert|
Nicholas Locarno was played by actor Robert Duncan McNeill. Locarno was the inspiration for Star Trek: Voyager's Tom Paris. When the writers were trying to cast for the part, they could not find anyone that seemed to match McNeill's persona, so they eventually just asked him to read for the role, and he got the part. Reasons for not simply bringing back the Locarno character have varied; it may have been because they would have had to pay royalties to the writers of "The First Duty" during every episode of Voyager where Paris appeared. In interviews, the producers of Voyager claimed Locarno's actions made him irredeemable, making redemption unbelievable for audiences. (TNG Season 5 DVD) McNeill himself has stated that, despite their apparent similarities, Locarno and Paris are two very different characters. 
A photo of McNeill as Locarno was later used as a photo of young Tom Paris on Admiral Owen Paris' desk in the Voyager episode "Pathfinder". His uniform from this episode was later sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
In the Star Trek novella Revenant, Nicholas Locarno joined the privateers of Celtic - a private starship - in 2380 where they boarded a vessel taken by the Borg. Locarno joined the boarding party, but it turned out that the away team had been sent there to be assimilated by the Borg. He subsequently allowed himself to be assimilated with the other members of the crew.