Investigations that found financial mismanagement and fraud in business and industry, cover-ups of lethal products, and failure of government to protect the public are among the works honored in the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards.

This year, there were two recipients of the top prize: the IRE Medal. The Los Angeles Times uncovered a story of incredible greed in one of California’s poorest towns, Bell, in “Breach of Faith.” The Times revealed how residents’ tax money was going toward outlandish salaries for some city employees, while others were getting laid off and services were being cut. The series resulted in resignations, arrests, and the refunding of nearly of $2.9 million in overpaid taxes and fees.

In the inaugural year of the “Partnership/Collaboration” category, an IRE Medal was awarded to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the BBC International News Services for “Dangers in the Dust: Inside the Global Asbestos Trade.” This project exposed an extensive network that has spent more than $100 million since the 1980s to keep asbestos on the market despite its known health risks.

Click here for a complete list of the winners and finalists in the 2010 IRE Awards.A pdf of the official press release can be found here.

The awards, given by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., recognize the most outstanding watchdog journalism of the year. The contest covers 18 categories across media platforms and a range of market sizes. The contest, which began in 1979, received 430 entries this year.