‘Little Nicholas’ Summary Explained: Is Francisco Nicolas Gomez Still In Prison?


Little Nicholas: The Life of a Scoundrel is a new documentary miniseries released on Netflix that looks back at one of the most infamous political scandals in Spain in recent times. The original Spanish name of the show, Picaro: El Pequeno Nicolas, is more appropriate as a clever twist on the words picaro and icaro, the latter pointing towards the story of Icarus. Like the Greek figure who soared too high to the sun, Francisco Nicolas Gomez also had an undoing because of his own steeply ambitious actions. Little Nicholas is a detailed and well-made documentary, and although it would perhaps be more enjoyable with some prior idea about the Spanish scandals mentioned, it is an intriguing watch overall.

Who is Francisco Nicolas Gomez?

At the center of Netflix’s Little Nicholas documentary is obviously the eponymous young man, Francisco Nicolas Gomez Iglesias, who managed to dupe multiple high-ranking authority figures, ranging from the King to the CNI intelligence agency. Nicholas’ story began from a moderately humble background, as his parents were middle-class, living in a fairly ordinary region in the city of Madrid. As a young boy, Nicolas was sent to the Saint Francis of Assisi school in the wealthy El Viso neighborhood, and he developed a childish interest in becoming the next Pope. But when asked about the motivation behind such a dream, it was evident that Nicolas had his eyes set on wealth and influence. Instead of any religious or social cause, he wanted to become the Pope solely because of the influence that the religious leader had over the world. 

From a very young age, Nicolas grew a profound interest in politics and administration, even making his mother take him down to the People’s Party (Partido Popular) headquarters at the mere age of ten. However, there was not much academic interest in him, as he was doing terribly in high school, and the institution did not want him any longer because of his bad grades. This was probably the first time that Nicolas used influence to wield a certain power, as he threatened to complain against the school to both religious and governmental leaders in the city about his situation. He managed to get into an elite athletes’ school despite having no connection with any sport whatsoever, and as he himself admits in the documentary, it was a result of him getting in touch with some influential people. Soon after, Nicolas started becoming friends with the children of businessmen and politicians, making himself quite a popular face among the youth.

Nicolas already had great communication and leadership skills by this time, and he started using them to full effect. It is no wonder that people from various sectors started to take note of the young boy, who could bring in crowds with him wherever. Nicolas reveals that having just two of the most popular students in each of the different schools in Madrid ensured that he could have numerous youngsters as followers, and so he started promoting parties at nightclubs. But very soon, he realized that mere parties were of no interest, and so Nicolas started attending talks at the Foundation for Analysis and Social Studies (FAES) research institute. Within some time, the young boy started recruiting other youngsters to attend FAES talks and programs, in the same way in which he had brought people to nightclubs. Therefore, the FAES foundation grew close to Nicolas, the latter even being nicknamed “FAES Fran,” and this, in turn, started to get him close to politicians, as the FAES organization had close ties with the People’s Party. 

At just fifteen, Nicolas hosted a meeting with the erstwhile Prime Minister of Spain, and after the event went rather well, the Secretary General of FAES, Jaime Garcia-Legaz, started working with the boy directly. Nicolas states that he was genuinely accepted into the organization and the party as an analyst, and that he grew a connection with the newly elected prime minister. According to him, he made acquaintances with the leader and then celebrated the night on the balcony of the People’s Party. The new government was actively trying to help the Spanish economy, which was terribly suffering at the time, and so they apparently got in touch with Nicolas and his friends from the finance side. Naturally, Nicolas’ power and fame grew at this time, and he started participating in various business deals, even meeting extremely rich and influential people in the country. 

Francisco Nicolas was basically acting in favor of the People’s Party, despite not being a direct member of it, as he explains. He was meeting various people and trying to get them to support the political party, and according to him, he was receiving commissions in exchange for every deal that he could get through. Around this time, Nicolas also got in touch with various people who worked for the National Intelligence Center (CNI), which is the highest intelligence agency in Spain. According to the boy, he was asked to come to work certain jobs for the CNI, and he quickly started to enjoy this information-collecting work.

How did Nicolas gain attention and controversy?

The supposed political career of Nicolas had already started, as he was working for the CNI and was being paid for it dearly. The boy, who was about twenty at this time, also started to have a lavish lifestyle, making it evident that he was doing quite well in life. An exquisite villa in the posh locality of Madrid became his new home, where he apparently held numerous political and diplomatic meetings with politicians and businessmen and also some happening parties with his younger friends. Nicolas also mentions that a number of these meetings did not have him participating in them, but his villa was preferred by politicians nonetheless because they felt safe there. While most other buildings could have had hidden surveillance devices, Nicolas’ villa had no such scare. According to the young man, the extremely high rent for this villa was paid by CNI, but there is no proof of this statement at all. Rather, what seems more likely is that a construction company, which had been in the favor of Nicolas in making business deals, was paying the rent for him. 

With his increasing influence and visibility in the Spanish political and economic scene, various dubious matters about Francisco Nicolas started to come out. Around 2012, Princess Cristina of Spain faced a major political scandal as it came to light that she had misused her identity to fraudulently gather public funds. Being a supporter of the royal family, Nicolas decided to try his hand at solving the matter and also make a name for himself through it. The man approached Miguel Bernad, the general secretary of the Manos Limpias trade union, which was one of the primary accusers against Princess Cristina. Nicolas either paid Bernad a lot of money or convinced him that he had direct ties with the royal family and managed to get the case against Cristina dropped. This habit of simply pretending to know certain high-powered, influential people did get Nicolas a long way. 

The media was most stirred by Nicholas when the young man was seen to be present during the coronation ceremony of the new king, Felipe VI. Nicolas learned of the abdication of King Juan Carlos I, apparently from his sources at the CNI, a few days earlier than it was publicly announced, and he personally messaged the King, thanking him for his rule. There is clear evidence of both this text and King Juan Carlos’ personal text reply to the young man. Then, during the coronation ceremony of the new king, Nicolas was present at the royal palace, and it is still not very clear as to how he got entry to the place. Nicolas, his mother, and his close friends still state that he had gotten an actual invite from the royal palace, and he claims to have used his influence in the CNI to get hold of it. A businesswoman named Catalina Hoffman had a close friendship with Nicolas at this time, and according to him, he got hold of official invites for both himself and Catalina. The woman, on the other hand, denies this claim altogether, saying that her invitation was from an official, legitimate source. Some still believe that Nicolas actually sneaked into the event with an invitation that he had forged, as faking identities and contacts was not something new to him.

During his college examinations, Nicolas got hold of fake IDs so a friend of his could go to the center and take the exam for him. Soon after the coronation ceremony fiasco, Nicolas also started claiming himself to be associated with either the royal family, some governmental organization, or an official connection between the two in various instances. All these lies were simply to get special treatment and to get access to various chances that no ordinary citizen could get. He would rent out cars and modify them, attaching police sirens and plaques, enabling him to pretend to be some high-ranking officer. Eventually, the police and the authorities found out about the scam that Nicolas was committing, and the young man was finally arrested on charges of impersonation and fraud.

How did Nicolas’ case uncover other scandals?

As the police investigation into Francisco Nicolas began, the name of a police officer, Jose Manuel Villarejo, came up in particular. Nicolas had been involved in the sale of a certain villa in the country, and Villarejo was also found to be indirectly involved in it. As soon as the police officer’s name got included in Nicolas’ case, he started reaching out to high-level authoritative figures and threatening them that he would leak information against them. In fact, Villarejo had been involved in such matters earlier in his professional career, too, and at present, it is widely believed that a highly confidential recording of a meeting between the CNI and the police department had also been made and leaked by Villarejo. Along with being a high-ranking police officer, Villarejo was also a businessman, and the journalists who first reported Nicolas’ arrest, as well as the ones believed to have made the secret recording, belonged to a company owned by the man himself.

Over the next few months, the Nicolas case got sidelined, and the investigation into this newly unearthed political scandal took over in the media. Villarejo directly refuted the claims made by the CNI and placed himself as an opponent to the intelligence unit led by Felix Roldan. Amidst all of this drama, everyone kept cutting ties with Nicolas, claiming that they had never known the young man personally. It can be guessed that at the peak of his short career, many officials and authority figures took the help of Nicolas, making use of the contacts and the relationships he had gathered and built. But now, when there was the risk of facing legal persecution, almost everyone turned away, claiming that they never had any personal acquaintance with the young man. Everyone, ranging from Jamie Garcia-Legaz to Jose Manuel Villarejo, claimed that Nicolas was just a petty impersonator who had managed to infiltrate various levels of the Spanish bureaucracy without any real connection whatsoever.

Have Nicolas and the others been found guilty?

Nicolas had committed all his acts out of a deep yearning for attention, power, and influence, but as he himself admits, much of it was done when he did not even fully understand the gravity of his actions. According to him, those who allowed him and even reaped benefits from his actions at the time are equally culpable in the matter, if not more. But by the end, Fernando Nicolas also had to face the repercussions of the misleading and deceitful acts he had committed. He has been ultimately found guilty of four charges, including fraud, forgery, and identity theft. With all the cases put together, Nicolas has to serve a total of twelve years and three months in prison. However, as it happens in many nations still struggling with corruption, the rest of the individuals named in the scandal, including Jose Manuel Villarejo, have not yet been proven guilty of any of the charges against them. As one of the reporters notes, Villarejo most definitely has sensitive information and recordings of all or most of the authority figures, ensuring that no severe action is ever taken against him.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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