NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A judge threw the book at a street hustler who followed two tourists into a hotel and threatened them with a box cutter.

Peter Palm, a Lieutenant Commander in the Swedish navy, was visiting New York in 2009 when he encountered 43-year-old Louis Parson.

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Parson tried to work an age-old scam on Palm: he bumped into him and dropped a glass bottle. Parson claimed the smashed bottle was full of booze and demanded $40 from Palm.

But Palm wasn’t buying it.

WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell describes the attack

When Palm didn’t fork over the clash, he said Parson followed him and his father into a hotel and threatened them with a box cutter.

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Not so, Parson claimed – he said he pulled the knife in self defense.

Parson later admitted he’d carried out the scam hundreds of times over the years, reported WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell.

Prosecutor Chris Ryan called Parson a career criminal and an example of why there’s such a thing as maximum sentences.

Judge Lewis Bart Stone sentenced Parson to 20 years to life in prison.

Parson groused that he might die before he gets to his first parole.

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What do you think? Is this sentence too harsh or just right? Sound off in our comments section.