from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Texas
REAVLEY, ELROD, and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges.
REAVLEY, CIRCUIT JUDGE:
Lanier was indicted and charged with conspiracy to commit
wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and
1349 (Count 1); wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1343 (Counts 2-15); harboring and concealing a person from
arrest, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1071 (Count 16); and
assisting a federal offender, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 3 (Count 17). A jury convicted him on each count save
Count 14. Lanier received a sentence of 204 months in prison
based on the fraud-related convictions and a concurrent
22-month sentence based on the Counts 16 and 17 convictions.
The district court also sentenced him to three years of
supervised release and ordered a $1, 600 special assessment
and restitution in the amount of $37, 544, 944.16.
Challenging his conviction and sentence, Lanier appeals.
case features complex facts spanning several years. We supply
only those necessary to make sense of the following
discussion. Patrick Lanier was once a successful securities
lawyer practicing in Austin, Texas. Somewhere along the way,
Harris Dempsey Ballow became a client. Lanier provided Ballow
with legal services relating to criminal cases and SEC
investigations. In 2000, Ballow was involved with a company
called EpicEdge and paid Lanier in EpicEdge stock. EpicEdge
turned out to be part of a fraud scheme, and Lanier sold all
of his shares just before their value cratered. In 2003,
Ballow was permanently enjoined from "engaging in the
promotion of securities, " and Lanier (who was
representing Ballow's co-defendant) knew of this.
initial involvement with Ballow did not lead him into legal
trouble. Their union ended, for a time, in late 2004 when
Ballow pleaded guilty to an 18 U.S.C. § 1957 violation
then fled the country while released on bond, becoming a
fugitive. The men renewed their relationship in 2006. Ballow
was hiding in Mexico, and he needed a lawyer.
mid-2006, Lanier visited Ballow in Mexico for the first time.
From that point on, he was Ballow's attorney once more.
He assisted on numerous projects, providing legal assistance
as problems arose. Ballow used false names during this
period, and Lanier incorporated these false names into his
work product. While Lanier and Ballow often communicated
directly, sometimes long-time Ballow associate Ruben Garza
Perez ("Garza") acted as an intermediary. Garza
even set up a special email account for Lanier (the
"patlawbest account"), and Lanier used this account
rather than his professional account when working with
had not reformed. He was still engineering and implementing
fraudulent schemes to bilk unsuspecting
"investors." In Mexico, he primarily used E-SOL
International Corporation ("E-SOL"), Medra
Corporation ("Medra"), and Aztec Technology
Partners, Inc. ("Aztec"). Lanier provided legal
services for each of these fraud-facilitating corporations.
enforcement never stopped looking for Ballow. Lanier
monitored the manhunt and repeatedly supplied Ballow with
updates on its progress. For example, in 2008 he provided
Ballow with a link to a news article describing the ongoing
search and indicating the FBI's belief that Ballow was in
investigation eventually bore fruit. Ballow was arrested, and
so was Lanier. With four other defendants, Lanier was charged
in a thirty-five-count indictment. He faced 17 counts
including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud,
harboring and concealing a fugitive, and assisting a federal
offender. Unlike his co-defendants, Lanier went to trial. The
jury convicted him on 16 of the charged counts, securing an
acquittal only with respect to one count of fraud. In
addition to a period of supervised release and a special
assessment, the district court sentenced him to 204 months
imprisonment. Lanier timely appealed.
advances numerous arguments. They can be classified as
follows: sufficiency of the evidence challenges,
Brady challenges, evidentiary challenges,
attorney-disqualification challenges, and sentencing
challenges. We address them in that order.
Sufficiency of the Evidence Challenges
Standard of Review
sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenges are reviewed de
novo, with all evidence viewed in the light most
favorable to the government and all reasonable inferences
made in support of the verdict. United States v.
Grant, 850 F.3d 209, 219 (5th Cir. 2017). If, under this
standard, "any rational trier of fact could
have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a
reasonable doubt, " the conviction must stand.
Id. (quoting United States v.
Vargas-Ocampo, 747 F.3d 299, 301 (5th Cir. 2014) (en
banc)). Our review is circumscribed still further when error
is unpreserved. In such cases, "review is only for a
manifest miscarriage of justice." United States v.
McDowell, 498 F.3d 308, 312 (5th Cir. 2007). When this
standard applies, the conviction will stand "unless the
record is devoid of evidence pointing to guilt or if
the evidence is so tenuous that a conviction is
shocking." United States v. Delgado, 672 F.3d
320, 330-31 (5th Cir. 2012) (en banc) (quoting United
States v. Phillips, 477 F.3d 215, 219 (5th Cir. 2007)).
motion for acquittal generally preserves sufficiency
arguments for the purposes of appeal. See, e.g.,
United States v. Beacham, 774 F.3d 267, 272 (5th
Cir. 2014). Here, Lanier moved for acquittal, but only with
respect to Counts 16 and 17. Accordingly, his sufficiency
challenge to those counts will be reviewed de novo,