No power for oxygen-dependent man after utility payment is allegedly stolen by friend

Robert Laux, 69, is dependent on oxygen and says he's been scammed of his utility payment. (WTHR photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The noise is a bit much, but for 69-year-old Robert Laux, the sound of a generator running outside his front door means he can breathe.

It's the reason Laux has lights and a functioning oxygen machine.

The retired carpenter has COPD and needs help breathing, even while sleeping.

"I don't move too much because I get out of breath too easy," Laux said.

He told us he's been without power for two months after IPL shut off his connection because of a past-due $2500 bill.

"They want it paid in full. They don't care if I'm on oxygen or not," said Laux.

Laux said he thought he was paying the utility every month, withdrawing the money from the bank and giving the cash to a family friend, who told him she was taking care of it.

"She'd go online and see what the bill was even before I got it in the mail," Laux said. He was happy for the help, since he doesn't use checks or a computer to pay bills.

According to Laux, his service was turned off "3 or 4 times" since the friend started paying his bills, but it was never off long.

"She said it was a glitch on their part, different excuse after another," said Laux.

It's been different this time, though. Laux's power is still off, and he can't reach the woman, so he's reported it to police.

"Seemed like a nice woman," he said. "I never expected this."

Running the generator isn't cheap. Laux says he spends up to $30 daily for fuel to keep it going. The past two months have wiped out most of Laux's savings.

"If I run out of gas tomorrow, I'm outta money until the first of the month, and I'm not gonna make it there," Laux said.

He hopes someone can help before he runs out of gas — and the ability to breathe.

"I know I'm running out of time," Laux said.

An IPL spokesperson for told Eyewitness News they're looking into the situation.

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