Former Ward 5 D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. will serve 38 months in prison for stealing more than $353,000 in public funds, a judge ruled Thursday.

Calling Thomas' actions "a betrayal of the public trust," District Judge John Bates ordered Thomas to serve a sentence less than the 46-month prison term prosecutors had sought, but far more than the 18-month sentence the defense recommended.

"A significant period of incarceration is warranted," said Bates, who noted what he believed was Thomas' "genuine remorse."

Thomas must serve three years of supervised release after his prison term.

Minutes before Bates imposed his sentence, Thomas apologized.

"There is no excuse," Thomas told a packed courtroom. "What I did was wrong."

Later, Thomas added, "I apologize for my actions."

The one-time political star also described Thursday's sentencing as "my weakest moment and my lowest moment."

He also tried to explain the actions that led to his resignation and guilty plea in January.

"I took this money because it was a sense of entitlement," Thomas told Bates. "I put myself ahead of the needs of the people."

Earlier, a federal prosecutor described the episode as "an all-time low for the people of this city."