As he continued to lag behind rivals Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron in the polls, François Fillon became the object of a formal investigation Tuesday into a fake jobs scandal, lengthening the odds of his becoming the next French president.

Fillon has been accused of several offenses, including misusing public funds and misuse of corporate assets, his lawyer said.

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“He was charged this morning,” Antonin Levy told AFP. “The hearing was brought forward so that it could take place in a calm manner.”

Fillon had been the favorite to claim victory in the election scheduled for April and May before the emergence in January of allegations he had paid his wife and two children hundreds of thousands of euros for work they had not performed.

Fillon has denied the accusations but the scandal has already delivered a significant blow to his hopes of succeeding François Hollande as France’s president.

A surprise winner of the Republican primary, he had been seen as favorite to garner widespread support as the more moderate right-wing alternative to the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union Le Pen. His lead in the polls was unwavering from the time he emerged as the Republican candidate last November to the outbreak of the scandal six weeks ago.

Now, he looks set to be knocked out in the first round, scheduled for April 23.

An Ifop-Fiducial poll released Tuesday and conducted March 10-14 indicated Fillon has 19 percent of the vote, with independent centrist Macron in second place at 25 percent and Le Pen now leading the way with 26.5 percent.

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If the first-round vote pans out that way, Macron and Le Pen will go into a second-round run-off on May 7. And that’s where a path to the presidency becomes significantly trickier for Le Pen, who has also faced her own fake jobs scandal.

Polls have consistently shown Le Pen being well beaten in the second round, whether facing off against Fillon or Macron, as voters unite against the controversial populist leader of the National Front.

In the latest poll, Le Pen would garner 39.5 percent of the vote in a second round, versus 60.5 percent for Macron.

French Presidential Election Odds
Emmanuel Macron — 4/6
Marine Le Pen — 5/2
François Fillon — 11/2